Abstract Recently, various robot off-line programming systems have promoted their own robot data models, resulting in a plethora of robot representation methods and unchangeable data files among CAx and robot off-line programming systems. The current paper represents a STEP-compliant Industrial Robot Data Model (IRDM) for data exchange between CAx systems and robot off-line programming systems. Using this novel representation method, most resources involved in a robot manufacturing system can be represented. The geometric and mathematic aspects of industrial robots have been defined in IRDM, so that the robot off-line programming system could have abundant information to represent robots’ kinematic and dynamic behaviors. In order to validate the proposed models and approaches, a prototype robot off-line programming system with 3D virtual environment is presented. The functionalities of IRDM not only have significant meaning for providing a unified data platform for robot simulation systems, but also have the potential capability to represent robot language using the object-oriented concept.