Britain's Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford had to settle for third in his first Diamond League meeting of the season in Shanghai, leaping 8.08m.
Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz was fifth in the high jump but did equal his season's best of 2.24m.
Jamaica's Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce comfortably won the women's 100m, clocking 10.93 seconds.
"The pick of the nine world-leading performances in Shanghai must be the 400m win in 44.02 seconds by Kirani James. When he won the Olympic title in London last year the Grenadian became the first non-American to crack 44 seconds, and now he's almost done it again in only his second race of the year. Might he be the one to finally break Michael Johnson's world record in 2013?"
And Olympic 400m champion Kirani James of Grenada set a meeting record of 44.02 secs as he beat a strong field.
The London 2012 gold medallist lined up against Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon and 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt.
But the 20-year-old finished some distance ahead of his rivals with American Merritt second in 44.60 and Santos of the Dominican Republic (45.11) third. Britain's Conrad Williams was disqualified, along with Czech Pavel Maslak, for a false start.
Double Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce was equally impressive in the 100m, finishing ahead of Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare (11.00) and Carmelita Jeter of the US (11.08), who needed treatment on the finishing line for a leg injury.
Rutherford had predicted the event in China, the second meeting of the Diamond League season, would prove his toughest test since winning gold in London last year.
The 26-year-old was competing against two former Olympic champions in Irving Saladino and Dwight Phillips, but it was home favourite Jinzhe Li who unexpectedly stoke the show with a leap of 8.34m.
What is the Diamond League?
- A total of 14 meetings around the world, finishing in Brussels on 6 September
- Visits Birmingham on 30 June for the British Grand Prix and London on 26-27 July for the 2012 Anniversary Games
- Each one of the 32 disciplines (sixteen for men and sixteen for women) is staged a total of seven times during the season
- The top three athletes at each meeting are awarded points, and the points are doubled in the final meeting
- The athlete with the highest number of points in each discipline at the end of the season wins their Diamond League event
Rutherford's third leap was enough to see him finish behind Li and Russia's Aleksandr Menkov (8.31m).
The Milton Keynes athlete believes he will be ready to challenge for gold at the World Championships in Russia this August.
"I go to every competition to win it, that's why I'm disappointed to finish third," said Rutherford. "By the time Moscow comes around I expect to be in very good shape and hopefully able to jump a lot further than last year."
His compatriots Chris Tomlinson (7.66m) and JJ Jegede (7.58m) finished ninth and 11th.
There was a thrilling finish in the men's 1500m as Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, some distance behind race leader Mekonnen Gebremedhin at the final bend, chased down the Ethiopian in the final straight, taking it with a dip on the line in 3:32.39.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Yelena Isinbayeva started her outdoor season with a victory in the pole vault. The Russian's best effort of 4.70m was enough to beat American Mary Saxter and Germany's Silke Spiegelburg even though she appeared to be struggling with an injury.
There was a Kenyan top nine in the men's 3,000m steeplechase, with teenager Conseslus Kipruto setting a meeting record and a world leading time of 8:01.16.
The 18-year-old finished ahead of compatriots Paul Kipsiele Koech (8:02.63) and Hillary Kipsang Yego (8:03.57).
Jason Richardson of the US won the 110m hurdles with a season's best 13.23 as compatriot and Olympic champion Aries Merritt crashed out.
The women's 800m was won by Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba (2:00.33), while Genzebe Dibaba turned the 5,000m into a procession - the Ethiopian winning in 14:45.92. Britain's Helen Clitheroe failed to finish.