The type species, Heyuannia huangi, was named and described by Lü Junchang in 2002. The generic name refers to the city of Heyuan. The specific name honours Huang Dong, the director of the Heyuan Museum. The holotype, HYMV1-1, was discovered in Guangdong near Huangsha in layers of the Dalangshan Formation. It consists of a partial skeleton, including the skull. Six further skeletons were assigned as paratypes or referred to the species. Multiple other fossils have been found, including one which may retain possible reproductive organs. Also, many thousands of eggs have been uncovered at the site, some of them of a theropod type and likely laid by Heyuannia.
Heyuannia is a medium-sized oviraptorid. Gregory S. Paul in 2010 estimated its length at 1.5 metres, the weight at twenty kilograms. Its toothless skull is relatively short with a steep snout. It had very short arms and digits, and its first digit was reduced.
Heyuannia was assigned by Lü to the Oviraptoridae in 2002 . Its exact placement within this group is uncertain. Later analyses either resulted in a position in the Oviraptorinae or the Ingeniinae. According to Lü the morphology of the shoulder girdle of Heyuannia supports the hypothesis that oviraptosaurians were secondarily flightless birds.