The species Rhus chinensis Mill. (Anacardiaceae) is an important representative of the genus Rhus, which contains over 250 individual species found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide. Rhus chinensis has long been used by folk medicine practitioners in Asia. Leaves, roots, stem, bark, fruit and particularly the galls on Rhus chinensis leaves, Galla chinensis, are recognized to have preventative and therapeutic effects on different ailments (such as diarrhea, dysentery, rectal and intestinal cancer, diabetes mellitus, sepsis, oral diseases and inflammation). However, it is critical to separate evidence from anecdote. Fortunately, recent scientific research has revealed that Rhus chinensis compounds possess strong antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities. Moreover, compounds isolated from the stem of Rhus chinensis significantly suppressed HIV-1 activity in vitro. Compounds from this plant were also found to inhibit enamel demineralization in vitro and enhance remineralization of dental enamel with fluoride. This review highlights claims from traditional and tribal medicinal lore and makes a contemporary summary of phytochemical, biological and pharmacological findings on this plant material. It aims to show that the pharmaceutical potential of this plant deserves closer attention.