Abstract The dynamic gas–film forces of aerodynamic bearing often can be characterized by eight linear stiffness and damping coefficients. How to theoretically predict these coefficients is a very difficult issue for tilting-pad gas bearing design because of its structural complexity. The current study presents a novel and universal theoretical analysis method for calculating the dynamic stiffness and damping coefficients of aerodynamic tilting-pad bearing. The gas–film pressure within the bearing is expressed in the form of dimensionless compressible gas-lubricated Reynolds equation, which is solved by means of the finite element method. With the assumption that the journal and the pads are disturbed with the same frequency, the dynamic coefficients of tilting-pad gas bearing are computed by using the partial derivative method and the equivalent coefficient method. Finally, the investigations are conducted about the effects of bearing number, perturbation frequency of the journal and the pads, eccentricity ratios, preload and length-to-diameter ratio of the bearing on the dynamic coefficients of aerodynamic tilting-pad journal bearing. The numerical results indicate that the dynamic stiffness and damping coefficients of tilting-pad gas bearing are closely related with these factors. The proposed analytical method provides a valuable means of predicting dynamic performances of tilting-pad gas bearing. The solution can be used for the purpose of prediction of dynamic behavior of the rotor systems supported by aerodynamic tilting-pad bearings.