To understand the extinction risk of lycophytes and ferns in China, we conducted an evaluation of the two groups according to IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1) at the national level. During a period of 16 months, a group of three researchers evaluated each taxon by means of reading literature, checking herbarium specimens, and consulting colleagues working on lycophytes and ferns in China. A total of 30 colleagues share their knowledge, mainly regarding living status and distribution, on Chinese lycophytes and ferns. Here we present a preliminary red list of Chinese lycophytes and ferns which includes 2,244 taxa of the following categories: 43 Critically Endangered (CR, among which six have probably been already extinct) , 68 Endangered (EN), 71 Vulnerable (VU), 66 Near Threatened (NT), 1,124 Least Concern (LC), and 872 Data Deficient (DD). The taxa which have been taken into account include species, subspecies, and varieties only, with forms and hybrids excluded. Of the 182 threatened species (VU, EN, and CR), 79 are endemic (or nearly) to China. Conservation priorities are suggested for the 79 threatened and endemic species, especially the 24 critically endangered species which include Adiantum meishanianum, A. nelumboides, Angiopteris chingii, Asplenium cornutissimum, Bolbitis hainanensis, Huperzia quasipolytrichoides var. rectifolia, Isoëtes orientalis, I. taiwanensis, I. yunguiensis, Paesia taiwanensis, Parathelypteris subimmersa, Polystichum basipinnatum, P. cavernicola, P. minutissimum, P. oblanceolatum, P. speluncicola, Pronephrium longipetiolatum, Pseudocyclosorus caudipinnus, Pteridrys lofouensis, Pteris angustipinna, Selliguea cruciformis, Tectaria ebenina, T. hekouensis, and Woodsia okamotoi. This red list is of a preliminary nature as a rather high proportion of taxa belong to DD (up to 872, ca. 39 % of total taxa in China). To gain a complete and precise red list, further evaluation work, especially taxonomic revisions based on field observations, is needed for the lycophytes and ferns in China. These include Angiopteris, Asplenium, Athyrium, Deparia, Dryopteris, Huperzia, Polystichum, Pteris, Selaginella, Polypodiaceae, and Thelypteridaceae which are still relatively poorly understood in terms of taxonomy and conservation.