He hailed from Xiapi 下邳 (modern Lianshui 漣水, Jiangsu) and was with the age of 25 sui recommended as a filial and incorrupt appointeee (xiaolian 孝廉). The regional governor (mu 牧) of Xuzhou, Tao Qian 陶謙, made him agricultural commander (diannong xiaowei 典農校尉). In this position he had to care for the irrigation works in the province and the increase of the harvest.
Later on he was sent to Xu 許, the residence of the warlord Cao Cao 曹操, and suggested to him annihilating Lü Bu 呂布. For this plan he was rewarded with the post of governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Guangling 廣陵, and entrusted with the campaign against Lü Bu. Having killed the latter, Chen Deng was given the title of General putting down the waves (fubo jiangjun 伏波將軍) and made governor of Dongcheng 東城.
He died in the age of 39 sui.