Abstract The accelerated advancement in modeling, digitizing, and visualizing techniques for 3D shapes has led to an increasing amount of 3D models creation and usage, thanks to the 3D sensors which are readily available and easy to utilize. As a result, determining the similarity between 3D shapes has become consequential and is a fundamental task in shape-based recognition, retrieval, clustering, and classification. Several decades of research in Content-Based Information Retrieval (CBIR) has resulted in diverse techniques for 2D and 3D shape or object classification/retrieval and many benchmark data sets. In this article, a novel technique for 3D shape representation and object classification has been proposed based on analyses of spatial, geometric distributions of 3D keypoints. These distributions capture the intrinsic geometric structure of 3D objects. The result of the approach is a probability distribution function (PDF) produced from spatial disposition of 3D keypoints, keypoints which are stable on object surface and invariant to pose changes. Each class/instance of an object can be uniquely represented by a PDF. This shape representation is robust yet with a simple idea, easy to implement but fast enough to compute. Both Euclidean and topological space on object’s surface are considered to build the PDFs. Topology-based geodesic distances between keypoints exploit the non-planar surface properties of the object. The performance of the novel shape signature is tested with object classification accuracy. The classification efficacy of the new shape analysis method is evaluated on a new dataset acquired with a Time-of-Flight camera, and also, a comparative evaluation on a standard benchmark dataset with state-of-the-art methods is performed. Experimental results demonstrate superior classification performance of the new approach on RGB-D dataset and depth data.