Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease of unknown etiology with considerable morbidity and mortality. Seeking informative diagnostic markers with greater clinical significance is essential for the early diagnosis of IPF. microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) have emerged as novel serum diagnostic biomarkers for various diseases. In this study, we performed microarray analysis of the miRNA expression profile in the serum of patients with IPF compared to that of control subjects. We then performed a preliminary analysis of biological functions for the most differentially expressed miRNAs. Some of the microarray results were validated by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The results from this study provide evidence to link the biological role of miRNAs to IPF, and suggest that miRNAs may undertake a variety of functions. Additionally, we found that the altered expression levels of miR-21, miR-155 and miR-101-3p were associated with forced vital capacity (FVC) and radiological features in IPF. Our data may serve as a basis for further investigation, preferably in large prospective studies, before miRNA can be used as a non-invasive screening tool for IPF in routine clinical practice.