The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called the protest, known as a hartal in the region, against the Awami League government, accusing it of failing to provide basic services including power, water and gas and being behind "arbitrary" arrests and harassment of opposition supporters.
Police say the strike halted transport throughout the country and disrupted business operations. Media reports say several people where injured as security forces dispersed the demonstrators.
A BNP MP was hurt when supporters and opponents of the strike clashed at Dhaka
University, police spokesperson Walid Hossain said. The man was later arrested.
The Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, swept to power in January 2009 after a landslide election win the previous month. The BNP, which ruled the country twice after democracy was restored in 1990, was reduced to a small opposition.
The poll followed two years of emergency rule by a military-backed government, which took power in an attempt to end the disruption caused by strikes and violent protests by the country’s two main competing parties.