Although mathematical modeling plays an important role in many curricula worldwide, significant discrepancies persist in the importance of mathematical modeling in ordinary mathematics classrooms and teacher education. This paper compares pre-service mathematics teachers' professional mathematical modeling competencies in three different regions—Germany, Mainland China, and Hong Kong—where educational and cultural traditions differ, including the role of mathematical modeling. In total, 232 pre-service mathematics teachers from the three regions completed a modeling task covering mathematics content knowledge (MCK) of modeling and mathematical pedagogical content knowledge (MPCK) of modeling. The results show that pre-service teachers from Germany demonstrated the strongest MCK and MPCK of mathematical modeling; by contrast, pre-service mathematics teachers from Mainland China and Hong Kong demonstrated relatively weaker MCK and MPCK of mathematical modeling. MCK and MPCK of mathematical modeling were also found to be unevenly developed at different competence levels for the three regions. These differences may be attributed to the history of mathematical modeling in mathematics curricula, teacher education, and teaching culture in these three regions. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).