Abstract In this paper, a novel method is proposed for the breaking of chaotic direct sequence spread spectrum (CD3S) secure communication system. Chaotic fitting is defined based on the concept of generalized synchronization, then the method based on unscented Kalman filter and chaotic fitting is presented based on the principle of CD3S and the characteristic that the information symbol varies slowly. Furthermore, addressing to the tracking error induced by the processing noise and chaotic fitting error, a modified unscented Kalman filter based on tracking-error-controlled factor is suggested. The CD3S is unmasked according to the error-amplitude of the tracking-error. We can extract the binary message signal from the CD3S signal without knowing either the structure or the parameters of the chaotic transmitter. Simulation results verify the method.