BACKGROUND: Translational medical research literature has increased rapidly in the last few decades and played a more and more important role during the development of medicine science. The main aim of this study is to evaluate the global performance of translational medical research during the past few decades. METHODS: Bibliometric, social network analysis, and visualization technologies were used for analyzing translational medical research performance from the aspects of subject categories, journals, countries, institutes, keywords, and MeSH terms. Meanwhile, the co-author, co-words and cluster analysis methods were also used to trace popular topics in translational medical research related work. RESULTS: Research output suggested a solid development in translational medical research, in terms of increasing scientific production and research collaboration. We identified the core journals, mainstream subject categories, leading countries, and institutions in translational medical research. There was an uneven distribution of publications at authorial, institutional, and national levels. The most commonly used keywords that appeared in the articles were "translational research", "translational medicine", "biomarkers", "stroke", "inflammation", "cancer", and "breast cancer". CONCLUSIONS: The subject categories of "Research & Experimental Medicine", "Medical Laboratory Technology", and "General & Internal Medicine" play a key role in translational medical research both in production and in its networks. Translational medical research and CTS, etc. are core journals of translational research. G7 countries are the leading nations for translational medical research. Some developing countries, such as P.R China, also play an important role in the communication of translational research. The USA and its institutions play a dominant role in the production, collaboration, citations and high quality articles. The research trends in translational medical research involve drug design and development, pathogenesis and treatment of disease, disease model research, evidence-based research, and stem and progenitor cells.