Originally known only from a pair taken alive to Europe by Jean Théodore Delacour in 1923, from which a captive line was bred. This "species" was rediscovered in 1990, when an immature male was trapped by a rattan collector. Another immature male was caught in February 2000.
This rare bird has now been shown to not be a full species, but rather an occasional naturally-occurring hybrid between Silver Pheasant L. nycthemera and Edwards's Pheasant L. edwardsi, with the 1990 bird probably being a hybrid between L. nycthemera and Vietnamese Pheasant L. (e.) hatinhensis.
ALAIN HENNACHE, PAMELA RASMUSSEN, VITTORIO LUCCHINI, SILVIA RIMONDI and ETTORE RANDI. (2003) Hybrid origin of the Imperial Pheasant Lophura imperialis (Delacour and Jabouille, 1924) demonstrated by morphology, hybrid experiments, and DNA analyses. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 80:4, 573–600