Abstract: Relay, which promises to enhance the performance of future communication networks, is one of the most promising techniques for IMT-Advanced systems. In this paper, multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) relay channels based on outdoor measurements are investigated. We focus on the link between the base station (BS) and the relay station (RS) as well as the link between the RS and the mobile station (MS). First of all, the channels were measured employing a real-time channel sounder in IMT-Advanced frequency band (2.35 GHz with 50 MHz bandwidth). Then, the parameters of multipath components (MPCs) are extracted utilizing space-alternating generalized expectation algorithm. MPC parameters of the two links are statistically analyzed and compared. The polarization and spatial statistics are gotten. The trends of power azimuth spectrum (PAS) and cross-polarization discrimination (XPD) with the separation between the RS and the MS are investigated. Based on the PAS, the propagation mechanisms of line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight scenarios are analyzed. Furthermore, an approximate closed-form expression of channel correlation is derived. The impacts of PAS and XPD on the channel correlation are studied. Finally, some guidelines for the antenna configurations of the BS, the RS and the MS are presented. The results reveal the different characteristics of relay channels and provide the basis for the practical deployment of relay systems.