The free-field strong ground motions recorded at 64 sites within 200 km from the ruptured Longmen Shan fault during the 12 May 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake were used to examine the near-source strong ground motioncharacteristics. The magnitude of vertical and horizontal peak ground accelerations (PGAs), frequency content, and duration of acceleration histories are analyzed. The observed peak ground accelerations at distances exceeding 60 km from the ruptured fault were significantly higher than those predicted by the Next Generation Attenuation (NGA) model, whereas, for periods of larger than 1 s, the spectral accelerations are much smaller than those of the NGA model. The same is also true for the observed peak ground velocities (PGVs). The duration of ground shaking is longer than for most earthquakes of comparable similar magnitude. For sites within 60 km from the ruptured fault, the accelerations observed on the hanging wall are larger than those observed on the footwall. The duration of ground shaking along the rupture direction (or the forward direction) is shorter than that opposite to the rupture direction (or the backward direction). There is also a systematic increase of PGA and PGV at sites located in the direction of the rupture propagation, whereas no such clear trend was found in the stations located along the backward direction. From the observed acceleration time histories at various locations, the rupture process of the 2008 Wenchuan appears to be more complicated than the focal mechanism interpreted from far-field seismic records. For example, the generation mechanism of the two distinct wave trains observed at Wolong and other stations need more detailed studies.