Glacier changes in the Karlik Shan, eastern Tien Shan, from 1971/72 to 2001/02 were monitored in this study. Topographic maps of 1 : 50 000 scale based on aerial photographs from 1971/72 and satellite images (Landsat TM, Landsat ETM+ and ASTER) from 1992, 2001 and 2002 were used to map glacier extent through a process of manual digitizing. The total glacier area decreased by 5.3% from 1971/72 to 2001/02. The rate of glacier area shrinkage was 0.13% a–1 between 1972 and 1992, but it was 0.27% a–1 from 1992 to 2001/02, suggesting accelerated glacier retreat in recent decades. Glacier changes in the region are a response to summer temperature increase. Annual precipitation also showed an upward trend, but this could not compensate for the mass loss due to ablation.