• Acupuncture research has grown markedly in the past two decades, with a 2-fold higher growth rate than biomedical research overall. Both the increase in the proportion of RCTs as well as the impact factor of journals published in support that the quality of published research has also improved. While pain was a consistent dominant research focus, other topics gained more attention during this time period. These findings provide a context for analyzing strengths and gaps in the current state of acupuncture research, and for informing a comprehensive strategy for further advancing the field.