Severe plastic deformation (SPD) in solid metals, with an aim to obtaining ultra-fine grained or even nano-structured materials, attracted great efforts all over the world. This article retrospects to the ancient origin of this technique and presents some aspects of recent research activities in China briefly. SPD appeared as “folding and forging” for the fabrication of high quality steel sword as early as ~ BC500, this technique developed and maturated at around AD220~280, with a special term in Chinese “BAI-LIAN” (means Multitudinous Repetitive Processing), the steel fabricated by this process is called BAI-LIAN steel. Inlay gold characters on unearthed ancient steel swords recorded the number of processing repetitions. This ancient technique even resulted in several Chinese idioms very popular until at present time. Current research activities on SPD in China, supported by the National Science Foundation, National high tech program, local government technical programs and enterprises etc., are blooming all over China, in Universities, Chinese Academy of Science, National Research Institute and Enterprises. SPD is becoming a hotspot in materials field in China. Chinese materials scientists expect greatly increasing contribution to the development of SPD.