Fabric and its evolution need to be fully considered for effective modeling of the anisotropic behavior of cohesionless granular sand. In this study, a three-dimensional anisotropic model for granular material is proposed based on the anisotropic critical state theory recently proposed by Li & Dafalias , in which the role of fabric evolution is highlighted. An explicit expression for the yield function is proposed in terms of the invariants and joint invariants of the normalized deviatoric stress ratio tensor and the deviatoric fabric tensor. A void-based fabric tensor that characterizes the average void size and its orientation of a granular assembly is employed in the model. Upon plastic loading, the material fabric is assumed to evolve continuously with its principal direction tending steadily towards the loading direction. A fabric evolution law is proposed to describe this behavior. With these considerations, a non-coaxial flow rule is naturally obtained. The model is shown to be capable of characterizing the complex anisotropic behavior of granular materials under monotonic loading conditions and meanwhile retains a relatively simple formulation for numerical implementation. The model predictions of typical behavior of both Toyoura sand and Fraser River sand compare well with experimental data. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.