In China, the Shanghai Composite fell 1% to 2148.45, dropping to its lowest closing level since March 13, 2009 and again failing to latch on to early gains. The Shenzhen Composite plunged 3.5% to 813.99.
The ChiNext Price Index, a subindex of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, tumbled 5.7% while another subindex, the SME Price Index, the barometer of small- and medium-sized firms listed on the SME board, ended 3.5% lower.
In other markets, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average lost 0.8% to 8488.71, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1% to 4142.70 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1% to 1863.74. In Mumbai, the Sensex fell 0.2% to 15857.08.
Among the gainers, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.5% to 18813.41 and Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.7% to 7130.86.
Some Chinese banks bucked the trend, with China Construction Bank rising 1.8% in Shanghai and adding 0.4% in Hong Kong.
Japanese technology shares lost ground as the euro weakened against the yen. Sony lost 2.2% and Casio Computer gave up 1.5%.
Chip maker Elpida Memory sank 7.4%, after the company confirmed a report that it is in discussions with some of its clients about possibly receiving financial support from them.
Commodity-linked stocks mostly outperformed in Hong Kong, but declined in Sydney after recording solid gains Wednesday. Cnooc climbed 2.8% to extend a string of recent gains, while PetroChina added 1.6% in Hong Kong. In Sydney, BHP Billiton dropped 1.1% and Alumina lost 3%.