Objectives: while intimate partner violence (ipv) is a global concern for women’s health, there are few comparative studies of ipv training in medical schools. The aim of this study was to investigate medical students’ knowledge of, and training in, ipv in the usa, vietnam and china. Study design: cross-national, cross-sectional study. Methods: us (n = 60), vietnamese (n = 232) and chinese (n = 174) medical students participated in a cross-sectional self-administered survey that included demographic characteristics; opinions, training and knowledge regarding ipv against women; and personal experience with ipv victims. Results: attitudes, knowledge and training about ipv among medical students varied between the three countries. Us participants reported higher levels of knowledge of ipv, were more likely to believe that ipv was a serious problem, and were more likely to consider ipv to be a healthcare problem compared with vietnamese and chinese participants. Chinese participants, in particular, did not appear to appreciate the importance of addressing ipv. Differences were found between the vietnamese and chinese students. Conclusions: while most medical schools in the usa include ipv training within their core medical curricula, education throughout medical school seems to be necessary to improve medical education regarding treatment of patients with a history of ipv. Vietnamese and chinese medical schools should consider including ipv education in the training of their future physicians to improve the health of women who have experienced ipv. Practical opportunities for medical students to interact with women who have experienced ipv are essential to develop effective ipv education. 2015 The royal society for public health.