From 2006 to 2009, 27 ultrasonic-tagged wild adult Chinese sturgeon Acipenser sinensis [eight males, 19 females; total length (LT) range = 245–368 cm] were captured on the spawning ground just downstream of Gezhouba Dam (GZD) in the Yangtze River. Twenty-six individuals were tracked for 7 to 707 days (mean number of relocations = 859; range = 3–4549). Acipenser sinensis movements were divided into four categories: (1) spawning migration, two tagged A. sinensis (one female and one male) returned to the Yangtze River and migrated from the Yangtze Estuary (river kilometer, rkm, 0) to the spawning ground (1678 rkm) between June and October. Their mean upstream ground speed was 1·41 km h−1 (range = 0·26–2·35 km h−1). The speed of the male was faster than the female; (2) pre-spawning holding, four of five females tagged in November 2008 stayed within 1678·00–1674·15 rkm for c. 1 year before the spawning period; (3) spawning movements, all A. sinensis swam mostly from the tailrace of the GZD (1678 rkm) to the Miaozui (1674·15 rkm) reach and some moved downstream c. 18·21 rkm (range = 3·93–24·64 rkm), but then, returned upstream to the GZD. Most tagged A. sinensis were on the spawning ground on the day when the spawning occurred; (4) post-spawning migration males (n = 6) and females (n = 2) departed the spawning area on a different time schedule, females leaving before males. The mean seaward ground speed of six A. sinensis was 4·87 km h−1 (range = 0·68–7·60 km h−1). There were no significant differences (P > 0·05) in ground speeds among reaches or between sexes within reaches between telemetry receivers. These broad spatiotemporal scale results will help establish an effective protection strategy for the species in the Yangtze River.