The rotary-draw bending process of thin-walled rectangular tube is a complex process with large deformation, large displacement and finite strain which makes the defects, such as wrinkling, distortion and crack be easily produced. To study the complex plastic deformation characteristics of thin-walled rectangular 3A21 aluminum tube during rotary-draw bending, the distributions of tangential, circumferential and normal strain have been studied by experiment using grid method. The results show that the maximum value of three-direction strain appears in the ridges of rectangular tube and tangential strain is the maximum principal strain. The value of maximum tangential tensile strain is lager than the maximum tangential compressive strain; it is the reason why crake is prone to occur during rotary-draw bending. The strain distribution curve along bending direction is not completely symmetrical with middle cross-section. With the increase of bending angle, three-direction strain of tube also increases and circumferential strain increases relatively smaller.