A lignin-pitch for carbon fiber was prepared in a high yield from exploded lignin on phenolysis followed by heat treatment under a vacuum. The lignin-pitch had an excellent spinnability in the melt state to form a fine filament. The green fibers were easily made infusible when heated in air at a relatively high heating rate (15-60°C/h). The lignin-based carbon fiber was produced in 43.7% of yield based on a starting material. The tensile strength was more than 400 MPa, indicating that the lignin-based carbon fiber is classified into a general purpose grade. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.