A total of 28 AFC teams entered the competition. However, were assigned to the Oceanian zone instead. The Asian zone was allocated 2 places (out of 24) in the final tournament.
Asia's automatic qualifying berths were taken by and
The 27 teams were divided into 2 zones, based on geographical considerations. Zone A had 13 teams (teams from West Asia) and Zone B had 14 teams (teams from East Asia). There would be three rounds of play in each zone:
First Round: The teams were divided into 4 groups of 3 or 4 teams each. The teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winners would advance to the Second Round.
Second Round: The 4 teams in each zone were paired up to play knockout matches on a home-and-away basis. The winners would advance to the Final Round.
Final Round: The 2 teams in each zone played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winners would qualify for the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Due to wars their countries were involved in, , and had to play all their home matches on neutral ground or away.