Abstract Macroscopic bulk metallic glass (BMG) structures have been investigated as potential structural materials in recent decades, due to their superior energy absorption ability and excellent mechanical properties. However, lack of understanding the deformation mechanisms of BMG structures significantly hindered their potential structural applications. In the present study, through macroscopic geometrical control, five BMG structural elements (struts) have been designed and investigated under both tensile and compressive loadings. Under tension, the particular BMG structural elements show tunable large macroscopic axial elongations, which are mainly attributed to the controllable plastic deformation in localized regions and the straightening of the curved segments in the BMG structural elements. Under compression, three different deformation modes are observed in the BMG structural elements. This work is of significance in understanding the deformation behavior of macroscopic BMG structures.