Fluorine is a noxious trace element in coal. While coal is burning, most of the fluorine in it is emitted as gases such as HF, SiF4, CF4, etc, resulting in contamination of the atmosphere. The endemic fluorosis caused by coal burning was reported mainly from Yunnan, Guizhou and south of Shaanxi province in China, where coal with high fluorine content was used for cooking and warmth with open stoves. In this paper, on the basis of the research on data in the world, the research progress in the content, distribution pattern, modes of occurrence, origin and release of fluorine in coal are analyzed in detail. The Perm-Carboniferous and Jurassic coal in north China and northwest China is mainly low-fluorine coal, accounting for nearly 90% of Chinese coal reserves. In the present study, the relative proportions of Chinese coal resource with different fluorine contents were not taken into account when average fluorine content in coals was estimated. Therefore, the current conclusion is questionable that the average fluorine content in Chinese coal is much more than the world average for coal.Further study on distribution pattern of fluorine in Chinese coal is necessary since the present study areas are mostly confined to certain coal mine or coal basin. The mode of occurrence of fluorine in coal is very important because of its association with release ability of fluorine and impacts on the environment. The determination of mode of occurrence of trace elements in coal was accomplished mainly through such methods as a series of leaching steps followed by analysis of residues and leachates, scanning electron microscopy, microprobe analysis, and x-ray diffraction studies. But these methods are rarely used for studying fluorine in coal at present. The mode of occurrence of fluorine in coal is still questionable, and it is necessary to further study on how the fluorine content in coal correlates with ash yield, metamorphic degree, the origin of fluorine or any other factors. Generally speaking, the progress in the study of fluorine in coal is less developed than other trace elements in coal such as As, Se, Hg. In addition, the study direction of fluorine in coal is suggested. More research is needed to ascertain the mode of occurrence and the origin of fluorine in coal as well as the fate of fluorine during the combustion of coal in modern power stations.