Fan Chou was born in Xiliang Commandery, the same hometown as Han Sui, in Liang Province, northwest China (in present-day Gansu, PRC). Fan Chou became an officer under Dong Zhuo and took part in his early campaigns against the Qiang and Han Rebels, including the Yellow Turbans and Ma Teng's Forces. He was appointed General on the Right and General of the Household when Dong Zhuo seized power from the Imperial Court in 189 CE, and commanded the supply depot at the Battle of Si Shui Gate a year later. During this battle, he allowed the depot to be overrun by Zhao Yun, an officer serving Gongsun Zan, but was not punished.
After the assassination of Dong Zhuo by his adoptive son Lu Bu, Fan Chou fled from the capital of Chang An to escape execution for treason, and assisted the bandit army of Li Jue and Guo Si. He took part in the defeat of an invading army led by Han Sui, Ma Teng, and Ma Chao in 192 AD, but Han Sui convinced him to grant him amnesty, as they were from the same hometown. Without the supervision of his superiors, Fan Chou allowed Han Sui to make off. Fan Chou was executed for his dereliction of duty at a banquet, in front of the eyes of Zhang Ji and Li Jue.