Based on the birth record data from the National Vital Statistics in the 1990 Census of China, the present study analyzed the differences between urban and rural areas on monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin rates by maternal age in 1989. The twins by zygosity were calculated with Weinberg's differential method. Results show that the MZ and DZ twinning rates in China were associated with maternal age and that there were substantial differences between urban and rural areas. The MZ twinning rates in urban and rural areas were 2.36 pairs and 2.11 pairs per 1000 deliveries respectively, significantly lower than that in most studied populations. Furthermore, our analysis indicated that MZ twinning rates remained relatively constant for mothers under the age group of 36 to 38 years, but rose over this age group in both areas, albeit with a different slope. The DZ twinning rates were strikingly affected by maternal age, but the age for peak DZ rates was found within the age group of 33 to 35 years. In all maternal age groups except for 24 to 26 years, the DZ twinning rates in urban areas were higher than in rural areas. It remains unclear as to why the DZ twinning rates reversed to reach higher values within the older maternal age groups in China, but it is almost certain that the high twinning rates had nothing to do with in vitro fertilization.