© 2020, OWZ. This paper introduces a three-dimensional (3D) simulation to model the elasto-plastic deformation of ductile materials by discrete element method (DEM) using cohesive plastic beam approach. The Euler–Bernoulli beam theory is applied to calculate force and torque reactions of the cohesive beam bond that can account for plastic strain. In order to simulate the elasto-plastic behavior of materials, a coupled model of plasticity and damage is proposed for the cohesive beam bond. The von Mises yield criterion, a modified perfectly plastic law and an exponential damage law are implemented to simulate behaviors of ductile materials such as steel and aluminum in tensile tests. It is then further applied to investigate the ductile fracture modes such as localized shear fracture and necking phenomenon with cup-and-cone shape. Finally, the proposed DEM model using cohesive plastic beam is applied to visualize the compression test of cylindrical steel sample and wrinkle deformation of steel tube under bucking due to axial compression. This paper is the first attempt to model ductile materials by DEM with cohesive beam bond in tension, compression and buckling. All of the numerical benchmarks demonstrate the power of DEM using cohesive beam bond to model ductile materials with fracture, large deformation and elasto-plastic behavior.