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University students might be relatively physically active and tend to experience physical activity-related injury (PARI) under the current global campaign to promote physical activity (PA). However, scarce is known about the problem of PARI and its associated factors amongst university students thought it has been firmly appreciated for children and adolescents.This study, supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31640038), aimed to explore the characteristics of PARI and its risk factors among university students in two Chinese cities (namely Shantou, Guangdong and Jinan, Shandong).A cross-sectional study was conducted in four universities, where 1421 students Year 1–3 were selected randomly and invited to complete the questionnaires during April and May via the one-on-one investigation after their completion of the baseline survey in March and April, 2017. Information of socio-demographics, PA involvement, risk-taking behaviors, and PARI experience in the past 12 months and its related characteristics were collected. The group Lasso and multivariate logistic regression were performed to identify risk factors for PARI.Totally, 486 PARIs were reported by 289 students, with an overall incidence rate of 0.82 injuries/1000 exposure hours of PA participation. Most injuries involved the lower extremities, were newly occurring and medically treated injuries, occurred in outdoor PA (skating, football and basketball particularly) and non-contact situations, with sprain and strain being the major injury types. Over half of the injured (52.1%) experienced an inactivity period of 2 days or above. Significant differences were seen between males and females. PARI was associated with city, gender, study year, club membership, higher vigorous-intensity PA (VPA) volume, and antisocial behaviors.The above data reinforce the necessary of implementing conditioning and practical programs to underpin the injury mechanism to prevent university students from PARI and maximize the benefits of PA.