Five-time world champion Valentino Rossi broke the lap record to claim pole position for the China Grand Prix.
Rossi has had 48 pole positions in his career
The Italian swept round the 5.281-km Shanghai circuit in one minute 58.424 seconds on his 20th lap to claim his third pole in four races this season.
Suzuki's John Hopkins was second 0.891 seconds back while his fellow American and Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards completed the front row.
Ducati's championship leader Casey Stoner was fourth fastest.
World champion Nicky Hayden of the United States will start from the third row after qualifying a disappointing ninth on his Honda, more than a second and a half behind Rossi.
His Spanish team-mate Pedrosa, last year's race winner, is fifth.
Rossi, who trails Australian Stoner by 10 points in the title race, was delighted to lead the field but said he expected a tougher challenge from Ducati in Sunday's race.
The 28-year-old said: "When I saw the lap time I was quite surprised but I pushed the bike to the maximum.
"I braked at the last moment every time, I didn't make any mistakes and the lap time was very impressive so I'm really happy.
"Sunday will be difficult for us. Maybe we are not the favourites but I am quite confident."
Live coverage of Sunday's race can be seen on BBC1 at 0735 BST.
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:58.424
2. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki 1:59.315
3. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1:59.406
4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1:59.516
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP) Honda 1:59.602
6. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda 1:59.863
7. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki 1:59.985
8. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati 2:00.052
9. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda 2:00.087
10. Shinyan Nakano (JPN) 2:00.157.