Changes in expression of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in plasma exosomes can be useful for diagnosis of cancer patients. Here, we conducted a four-stage study to identify plasma exosome lncRNAs with diagnostic potential in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). First, plasma exosome lncRNA expression profiles were examined in ESCC patients, esophagitis patients, and healthy controls using RNA sequencing. Differentially expressed plasma exosome lncRNAs from the lncRNA expression profile were then evaluated by qRT-PCR in a large cohort of ESCC patients, esophagitis patients, and healthy controls. Expression levels of the lncRNAs NR_039819, NR_036133, NR_003353, ENST00000442416.1, and ENST00000416100.1 were significantly higher in exosomes from ESCC patients than non-cancer controls. We also confirmed that levels of these five plasma exosome lncRNAs decreased markedly in ESCC patients after surgery. Our results suggest that these five exosome lncRNAs may serve as highly effective, noninvasive biomarkers for ESCC diagnosis.