Abstract The study explored the mediating effect of number sense between nonverbal intelligence and children's mathematical performance. The sample consisted of 131 pupils in Shaoxing City of China from grades 1, 3, and 5. The students completed measures of nonverbal intelligence, number sense, basic arithmetic ability, mathematical performance, rapid automatized naming, and working memory. Results show that although all variables significantly relate with each other (all p < .01), only nonverbal intelligence, number sense, and basic arithmetic ability significantly affect children's mathematical performance (all p < .01). According to multiple-mediation model, nonverbal intelligence significantly predicts children's mathematical performance through number sense and basic arithmetic ability. These findings suggest that domain-specific mathematical skills play a prominent role in children's mathematical performance in primary school, rather than domain-general cognitive functions. Educators should pay attention to develop children's number sense in order to improve children's mathematical ability.