To explore the relationship between occupational stress and coping strategies among operating theatre nurses in China.Studies on occupational stress and burnout in nurses are common, but there is a dearth of research on the coping strategies of operating theatre nurses.A cross-sectional study was conducted in a typical operating theatre in China. A questionnaire survey was conducted among 70 nurses. The data were analysed using correlation and regression methods.Nurses reported high stress levels in the workload and time pressure subscales. Female nurses' occupational stress was positively correlated with designation and negatively correlated with operation sets per day and night shifts. Nurses preferred self-control as a coping strategy. Active coping was positively related to resource and environmental problems, and passive coping was positively related to workload and time pressure, and to interpersonal relationship and management issues.Nursing managers could reduce operating theatre nurses' passive coping by decreasing the stressors of workload and time pressure, and interpersonal relationships and management problems.Nursing managers could employ more nurses to reduce nurses' workload and occupational stress. In addition, managers should consider fortifying nurses' active coping strategies and training nurses in problem-solving skills.