A general analytical model based on shear-deformable beam theory has been developed to study the flexural–torsional coupled vibration and buckling of thin-walled open section composite beams with arbitrary lay-ups. This model accounts for all the structural coupling coming from the material anisotropy. The seven governing differential equations for coupled flexural–torsional–shearing vibration are derived from Hamilton's principle. The resulting coupling is referred to as sixfold coupled vibration. Numerical results are obtained to investigate effects of shear deformation, fiber orientation and axial force on the natural frequencies, corresponding mode shapes as well as load–frequency interaction curves.