INTRODUCTION Complex coronary artery disease (left main and three-vessel disease) carries high risks of adverse events and cost burden. However, in China, little is known about which patients are directed toward which treatment strategies and what outcomes are being achieved. METHODS AND ANALYSIS Using the China PEACE (Patient-centered Evaluative Assessment of Cardiac Events) research network, this prospective study of three-Vessel Disease, the China PEACE-3VD study, has a plan to consecutively register over 4000 patients with a diagnosis of 3VD and/or left-main disease by elective coronary angiography at 24 large cardiovascular centres in China. We centrally conducted medical record abstraction and SYNTAX Score calculation for all registered patients. The sites invited patients to the prospective cohort, and conducted 1-year follow-up on major events, including cardiac events, symptoms, secondary prevention and quality of life. The estimated entire sample size of eligible patients of 4000 was determined based on both feasibility and consideration of adequate statistical precision for describing the treatment decisions, guidelines adherence and appropriateness of treatment for patients with complex coronary artery diseases. The study is designed to investigate patient, clinician and hospital factors associated with each treatment strategy (percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass grafting or medical therapy) as well as appropriateness of treatment choice, current guideline compliance and patient-reported outcomes for patients with complex coronary artery disease in large cardiovascular centres in China, as a foundation for enhanced knowledge in the field and to assist quality improvement initiatives. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION The study protocol was approved by the ethics committee at the China National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases. Findings will be shared with participating hospitals, policymakers and the academic community, to promote quality monitoring, quality improvement and the efficient allocation, and use of coronary revascularisation procedures in China. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER NCT01625312; Pre-results.