A three-dimensional electromagnetic model (3-D EM-model)–based scattering center matching method is developed for synthetic aperture radar automatic target recognition (ATR). 3-D EM-model provides a concise and physically relevant description of the target’s electromagnetic scattering phenomenon through its scattering centers which makes it an ideal candidate for ATR. In our method, scatters of the 3-D EM-model are projected to the two-dimensional measurement plane to predict scatters’ location and scattering intensity properties. Then the identical information is extracted for scatters in measured data. A two-stage iterative operation is applied to match the model-predicted scatters and the measured data-extracted scatters by combining spatial and attributed information. Based on the two scatter sets’ matching information, a similarity measurement between model and measured data is obtained and recognition conclusion is made. Meanwhile, the target’s configuration is reasoned with 3-D EM-model serving as a reference. In the end, data simulated by electromagnetic computation verified this method’s validity.