An important hydrocarbon reservoir is hosted by the third member of the Shahejie Formation (Es3) in the Zhanhua Sag, Bohai Bay Basin. Seismic stratal slices reveal different characteristics of channels and fan-delta lobes between the south (slope break belt) and southwest (gentle slope) areas combined with lithology, wire-line logs and three-dimensional (3-D) seismic data in the southern slope of Zhanhua Sag. And an excellent analogue has been provided for understanding various key depositional evolution of fan-deltas in the slope system (from base to top: Es3L, Es3M and Es3U). The Sedsim, a three-dimensional stratigraphic forward modelling programme, is applied to simulate the evolution of fan-deltas in the southern slope break systems and southwestern gentle slope systems of the Zhanhua Sag by considering a number of key processes and parameters affecting the fan-deltaic deposition from 43 Ma to 38.2 Ma. Modelling results indicate that depositional types and scales evolved from the thickest medium-scale gravel- or sand-rich fan deltas (43 Ma ∼41.4 Ma, Es3L) to the thinnest small-scale mud-rich fan deltas and lacustrine mud (41.4 Ma ∼39.8 Ma, Es3M), and lastly to less thicker larger-scale mixed sand-mud fan deltas (39.8 Ma ∼38.2 Ma, Es3U). The types of slope system, sediment supply and lake-level change are three controlling factors for determining the source-to-sink architecture of the gravel-to mud-rich fan-deltas and sediment-dispersal characteristics. This study has demonstrated that the process-based modelling approach can be effectively used to simulate complex geological environments and quantify controlling factors.