Across the world, people living with schizophrenia (PLS) are often cared for by family caregivers. This is especially true in China where community-based systems of care for PLS are underdeveloped. Thus, family caregivers of PLS may experience emotional distress and burden in the absence of community-based services. Pearlin (1990) proposed a highly influential model for understanding the stress process and its relationship to health and wellbeing. Although the model has been examined worldwide, it has yet to be studied in China for caregivers of PLS. In the present study, we use Pearlin's stress process model to examine the mediating effect of perceived caregiver burden, family functioning, and caregivers' positive feelings about caregiving on PLS global functioning and caregiver depressive symptoms. We also examine whether the model differs for parent and spouse caregivers. A total of 327 primary family caregivers of PLS in Hunan province, China, were assessed cross-sectionally using culturally-validated measures. Bootstrap methods with Hayes's PROCESS Macro were used to test multiple mediation models of global functioning scores of PLS and caregiver depressive symptoms. In this first study of the stress process model of family caregivers of PLS in China, the results generally support the model. Caregiver perceived burden, family functioning, and positive caregiver feelings about caregiving all mediate the relationship between PLS global functioning and caregiver depression, with perceived caregiver burden having the strongest indirect effect. Analyses also show that the stress process differs between parent and spouse caregivers, with perceived caregiver burden a mediator for both groups but family functioning only a mediator for parent depressive symptoms. We discuss implications of these findings for extending the stress process model cross-culturally; suggest hypotheses for future research to examine parent and spouse differences; and discuss fruitful directions for intervention. • Test of the stress process model of family caregivers of persons living with schizophrenia (PLS) in China. • Results support the model with caregiver depressive symptoms predicted by global functioning of the PLS. • Caregiver burden, family functioning, and caregiver rewarding feelings mediate caregiver depressive symptoms. • The stress process model differs for parent and spouse caregivers.