Returning to Guangdong in 1925, he was assigned to command and train what later became the Independent Regiment, an attachment of the GMD National Revolutionary Army's Fourth Army, recruiting many CCP members and Communists graduated from the Huangpu (Whampoa) Military Academy. After the GMD-CCP split in mid-1927, Ye fled and participated in the two abortive Communist uprisings in Nanchang, Jiangxi (Kiangsi), and Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong, in August and December, respectively. At the end of 1927, Ye left the party and lived in retirement abroad.
When the Sino-Japanese War began, Ye returned to China in October 1937 to command the newly created New Fourth Army, a force comprising Communist guerrillas in the lower Changjiang (Yangtze) Valley under the National Revolutionary Army and a symbol of the GMD-CCP united front. Ye's appointment owed much to his connections with both the Nationalist and Chinese Communist military leaders during the 1920s. In January 1938, the New Fourth Army formally came into being, with headquarters in Nanchang and a field command post in southern Anhui (Anhwei), operating along the communication lines between Nanjing (Nanking) and Shanghai within Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province, between Nanjing and Wuhu (Wuhu) in Anhui, and between Nanjing and Hangzhou (Hangchow) in Zhejiang (Chekiang). After the Japanese took Xuzhou (Hsüchow), Jiangsu, Ye's forces operated behind Japanese lines north of the Changjiang River in May.
Ye's rapid extension of operations in the Jiangsu-Anhui area and his victories over the Japanese mopping-up campaigns in southern Anhui in 1939 and 1940 aroused Nationalist suspicions. The GMD leaders feared growing CCP power that might undermine its rule after the war. The situation culminated in the New Fourth Army Incident, also known as the Southern Anhui Incident, of January 1941. Ye was charged with insubordination to military orders and imprisoned for the remainder of the war until 4 March 1946, when he was set free as a result of repeated demands by the Chinese Communists. Released, Ye requested reinstatement of his CCP membership, which was immediately granted. On the way from Chongqing (Chungking), Sichuan (Szechwan) Province, to the Communist base in Yan'an (Yenan), Shaanxi (Shensi), on 8 April 1946, Ye's plane crashed in northwest Shaanxi, and he was killed.
Benton, Gregor. New Fourth Army: Communist Resistance along the Yangtze and Ituai, 1938–1941. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.; Duan Yusheng, Chou Zhao, and Qihua Li. Ye Ting Jiang Zhuan (The biography of General Ye Ting). Beijing: Jiefangjun Chubanshe, 1989.; Hooton, E. R. The Greatest Tumult: The Chinese Civil War, 1936–49. London: Brassey's, 1991.; Lu Quan and Qianhong Ta. Ye Ting Zhuan (The biography of Ye Ting). Zhengzhou, China: Henan Renmin Chubanshe, 1987.