This track cycling event consisted of numerous rounds. The competition began with a time trial over 200 metres. The top 12 cyclists in that qualifying round were seeded into the 1/8 finals. There, they raced one-on-one. The six winners advanced to the quarterfinals, with the six losers getting another chance at the repechage. This repechage consisted of three-cyclist heats, with the two winners moving on to the quarterfinals.
Beginning with the quarterfinals, the head-to-head competitions switched to a best-of-three format. That format was also used for the semifinals and final. In addition, the bronze medal competition was a best-of-three match between the semifinal losers. The classification race for 5th to 8th places was a single race with all four cyclists competing.
 The twelve cyclists were paired based on their preliminary round rankings, 1 vs. 12, 2 vs. 11, and so on, in head-to-head 200 metre matches, with the winners advancing to the second round and the losers to the repechage.
 The four cyclists qualified this far were paired again for a best two-out-of-three series of 200 metre races. Guo Shuang was relegated for having deemed to have illegally manoeuvred Anna Meares, after having jostled her in their third and decisive sprint.
 During the same session as the semifinals, the four cyclists who were eliminated in the repechage were put into a single four-rider 200 metre race to determine exact placings from ninth to twelfth.