Based on an investigation of 106 projects involving the use of building information modelling (BIM), this paper examines current BIM practices in China, and assesses how various practices alter their effectiveness. The results reveal that in current practice BIM is principally employed as a visualization tool, and how it is implemented is significantly associated with project characteristics. BIM use in the majority of the surveyed projects is seen to have positive outcomes, with the benefits of improved task effectiveness being more substantial than those related to efficiency improvement. The results also provide evidence that project characteristics significantly influence the success of BIM use; however, more substantial contributing factors to BIM effectiveness are the extent of integrated use and client/owner support. While indicating that current BIM practices involve both technological and organizational problems, the findings also provide insights into how the potential for BIM could be better exploited within the industry.