In this article, an unsteady tip leakage flow instability is identified and investigated for an axial compressor at near-surge conditions. We describe the results of experimental verification of a new compressor developed by improving the blade geometry based on the criterion for the occurrence of this unsteady phenomenon. In a high-speed multistage axial flow compressor having a subsonic high stagger rotor blade, a surge test was carried out by changing the tip clearance. Under a condition of large tip clearance, a drastic decrease in the static pressure rise coefficient near the surge point was observed. At this operating condition, large, unsteady pressure fluctuation at the blade tip was confirmed, and the occurrence of tip leakage vortex breakdown was clarified by unsteady multipoint pressure measurement and detailed unsteady numerical simulations. Due to the blockage effect caused by vortex breakdown of the tip leakage, double leakage and axially reversed flow near the trailing edge were observed. It was found that the vortex breakdown region of the tip leakage vortex propagated in the circumferential direction and caused the rotating instability. In order to investigate the relationship among this unsteady flow phenomenon, tip clearance size, and flow pattern, unsteady calculation was conducted by changing the blade tip stagger and tip clearance size. A new concept of tip clearance of staggered pitch reference was proposed, which makes it possible to include the effect of blade loading on the clearance and clarifies that there exists a threshold at which vortex breakdown occurs/does not occur. On the basis of the aforementioned results, a high-speed multistage improved compressor was designed and manufactured to prevent tip leakage vortex breakdown. A clearance change test using active clearance control technology was conducted, and an increase in the static pressure rise coefficient near the surge point was confirmed for each clearance. The design concept of the improved blade, which suppressed the unsteady tip leakage flow instability, was tested and verified, and the effectiveness of the design guideline in actual gas turbines for power generation was confirmed.