Background The epidemiology of upper gastrointestinal (L4) Crohn's disease in China remains poorly characterized. Aims We aimed to identify the clinical characteristics of L4 disease and clarify the relationship between disease characteristics at diagnosis and early outcomes. Methods We retrospectively enrolled 246 patients diagnosed between 2013 and 2017 and followed up for > 1 year post-diagnosis. Primary outcomes included the 1-year rates of hospitalization and abdominal surgery according to disease location and behavior. Results Of 80 patients with L4 disease (61, 25, and 18 with esophagogastroduodenal, jejunal, and proximal ileal involvement, respectively), none had granuloma, whereas 66.7%, 50%, 46.9%, 75%, and 70% had disease-specific endoscopic lesions in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, jejunum, and proximal ileum, respectively. Compared to non-L4 disease, L4 disease was associated with higher rates of abdominal surgery (41.3% vs. 11.4%, P < 0.001) but similar rates of hospitalization within 1 year post-diagnosis. In L4 disease, jejunal and proximal ileal involvement was associated with stricturing behavior (P = 0.034, P < 0.001) and higher abdominal surgery rate (both: P < 0.001). Risk factors for abdominal surgery within 1 year post-diagnosis included age >= 40 years (OR 1.920; 95% CI 1.095-3.367), L4 phenotype (OR 6.335; 95% CI 3.862-10.390), stricturing disease (OR 3.162; 95% CI 1.103-9.866), and penetrating disease (OR 11.504; 95% CI 3.409-38.825), whereas the protective factor was female sex (OR 0.214; 95% CI 0.123-0.373). Conclusions Early outcomes are worse for L4 than for non-L4 disease. Jejunoileum involvement predicts stricturing disease and early surgery. More aggressive initial therapy is needed to improve L4-disease prognosis.