The total pay of top company bosses increased by 18% last year, a survey of 1,000 directors has found.
BP's Lord Browne is thought to be the UK's highest paid executive
Income Data Services' (IDS) annual board room survey found almost half now earned over £1m, with eight receiving packages worth in excess of £5m.
IDS, which has assessed executive pay for the last 15 years, said it had never seen so many earn so much money.
The rise in directors' wages compared with average settlements of between 3 and 3.5% in the wider economy, it said.
Steve Tatton, of IDS, said that the continuing upward trend may in part be attributed to improved business conditions.
The TUC said it wanted action to curb what it referred to as "sky high increases" .
Meanwhile, the Institute of Directors said no-one wanted to reward failure, but success had to be paid for.