The latest round of "stress tests" will test how the banks would handle recessions in Europe and Japan and severe slowdowns in other Asian countries including China.
Under the Fed's most severe scenario, the United States would undergo a recession in which unemployment would reach nearly 12 percent, stocks would lose half their value and home prices would plunge 20 percent.
The nation's 19 biggest banks must submit reports on how they would fare under various scenarios. The central bank will release the results by late March.
The Fed has conducted stress tests of the banks every year since 2009.