Temperature lapse rate (TLR) has been widely used in the prediction of mountain climate and vegetation and in many ecological models. The aims of this paper are to explore the spatio-temporal variations and monsoon effects on the TLR in the subtropical island of Taiwan with its steep Central Mountain Region (CMR). A TLR analysis using the 32-year monthly mean air temperatures and elevations from 219 weather stations (sea level to 3852 m a.s.l.) was performed based on different geographical regions and monsoon exposures. The results revealed that the average TLR for all of Taiwan is -5.17°C km-1, with a general tendency to be steeper in summer and shallower in winter. The results are also shallower than the typical or global average TLR of -6.5°C km-1. During the prevailing northeast monsoon season (winter), the TLR exhibits a contrast between the windward side (steeper, -5.97°C km-1) and the leeward side (shallower, -4.51°C km-1). From the diagnosis on spatial characteristics of monthly cloud amount and vertical atmospheric profiles, this contrasting phenomenon may be explained by the warming effect of onshore stratus clouds (500 - 2500 m depth) on cold and dry Siberian monsoon air on the windward side of the CMR. On the southwestern leeward side of the CMR, the low-level (1500 m), the weak ventilation atmosphere and temperature inversion make the TLR shallower than on the windward side.