In order to advance our understanding on the temporal and spatial distribution law of red beds in the world and their differences in geomorphic development, a comparative study was conducted on the distribution, age, geological setting, paleogeographic environment, lithology, and geomorphic features of red beds in and outside China. It reveals that red beds in China are mainly distributed in southeast, southwest, and northwest China. They were mainly deposited in the Mesozoic Era, especially in Cretaceous. The major tectonic settings for the deposition of red beds in China are fault basins and depression basins in reactivated areas of paleo-landmass. Almost all red beds in China are continental deposits, which were formed in arid and semi-arid paleoclimate conditions, with a wide range of grain size, from coarse-grained conglomerates,through fine-grained sandstones and siltstones to mudstones. Various types of landform were developed on red beds in China, including Danxia landforms, red bed plateaus, red bed mountains, and red bed hills. By contrast, red beds outside China have a much wider range of age, from Precambrian to Neogene, indicating a trend of deposition from old landmass to young landmass. As for tectonic setting, it can be classified into four types: piedmont/intermountain depression deposition, platform depression deposition, rift basin deposition and back-arc basins. Most of them were continental deposits, with few littoral and transitional facies. The paleoclimate for the formation of these red beds was also arid and semi-arid climate. However, in lithology, most red beds outside China were composed of red sandstones, siltstones, and mudstones, with few coarse-grained deposits like conglomerates. Except in some piedmont/intermountain basins with complex tectonic setting, the types of red bed landforms developed in stable landmassesoutside China are relatively simple.