Britain's Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier missed out on gold in the mixed doubles final at the World Championships at Wembley Arena.
Despite making a solid start against the Chinese top seeds Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, they were eventually beaten 21-15 21-7.
The Anglo-Scottish pair are ranked 20 in the world and were appearing in their first major final.
"Unfortunately they were a bit more experienced," Adcock told BBC Sport.
Zhang and Zhao's victory gave China their fifth gold medal of the championships.
Of the 21 other British players who entered this year, none made it past Wednesday's matches.
Neither Leicester-born Adcock, 22, nor Scottish 23-year-old Bankier, had ever come close to an international result of this magnitude at senior level.
The British couple went toe-to-toe with the Chinese early on in the final as Bankier's confident net play disrupted their opponents' play.
A powerful smash by Adcock drew the British pair level at 15-15 and they looked on course to cause another upset.
But a series of mis-hits and errors allowed Zhang and Zhao to take control.
"The first set was absolutely crucial," Adcock told BBC Sport. "We were playing well until 15-15. It's where we've been strong all week, closing out matches and performing in tight situations.
"We've won a silver world medal and I see it as a stepping stone to winning the medal above. We can only use it as a positive."
By the second set, the Chinese had found their form and looked comfortable dealing with the British attack.
In front of a boisterous Wembley crowd, Adcock and Bankier struggled to cope with the Chinese duo's dominance as they fell 15-6 behind and the world's top pair soon clinched victory.
Bankier told BBC Sport: "It's hard to end the tournament on a loss when we've been on a high all week. But, when we reflect, we've produced some fantastic performances and had brilliant results against top 10 pairs."
This was the first appearance by Britons in a World Badminton final since Athens Olympic silver medallists Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms won the mixed doubles world title in 2006.
Five years on from that success, Robertson drifted out of the tournament alongside new partner Jenny Wallwork on its third day.
That pairing - seeded 10th - had been billed as Britain's likeliest chance of a medal, but unseeded Adcock and Bankier appeared inspired by their status as last Brits standing.
"We knew we could achieve good things but just not this early," said Adcock, who has only been playing with Bankier since September last year.
"We've proven what we can achieve, everything fell into place this week."