Based on daily maximum and minimum surface air temperature and precipitation records at 303 meteorological stations in China, the spatial and temporal distributions of indices of climate extremes are analyzed during 1961–2003. Twelve indices of extreme temperature and six of extreme precipitation are studied. Temperature extremes have high correlations with the annual mean temperature, which shows a significant warming of 0.27°C/decade, indicating that changes in temperature extremes reflect the consistent warming. Stations in northeastern, northern, northwestern China have larger trend magnitudes, which are accordance with the more rapid mean warming in these regions. Countrywide, the mean trends for cold days and cold nights have decreased by −0.47 and −2.06 days/decade respectively, and warm days and warm nights have increased by 0.62 and 1.75 days/decade, respectively. Over the same period, the number of frost days shows a statistically significant decreasing trend of −3.37 days/decade. The length of the growing season and the number of summer days exhibit significant increasing trends at rates of 3.04 and 1.18 days/decade, respectively. The diurnal temperature range has decreased by −0.18°C/decade. Both the annual extreme lowest and highest temperatures exhibit significant warming trends, the former warming faster than the latter. For precipitation indices, regional annual total precipitation shows an increasing trend and most other precipitation indices are strongly correlated with annual total precipitation. Average wet day precipitation, maximum 1-day and 5-day precipitation, and heavy precipitation days show increasing trends, but only the last is statistically significant. A decreasing trend is found for consecutive dry days. For all precipitation indices, stations in the Yangtze River basin, southeastern and northwestern China have the largest positive trend magnitudes, while stations in the Yellow River basin and in northern China have the largest negative magnitudes. This is inconsistent with changes of water vapor flux calculated from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis. Large scale atmospheric circulation changes derived from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis grids show that a strengthening anticyclonic circulation, increasing geopotential height and rapid warming over the Eurasian continent have contributed to the changes in climate extremes in China.