Air pollution has become a serious problem in the Pearl River Delta, South China, particularly in winter due to the local micrometeorology. In this study, atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were monitored weekly in Shenzhen during the winter of 2006. Results indicated that the detected PAHs were mainly of vapor phase compounds with phenanthrene dominant. The average vapor phase and particle phase PAHs concentration in Shenzhen was 101.3 and 26.7 ng m( - 3), respectively. Meteorological conditions showed great effect on PAH concentrations. The higher PAHs concentrations observed during haze episode might result from the accumulation of pollutants under decreased boundary layer, slower wind speed, and long-term dryness conditions. The sources of PAHs in the air were estimated by principal component analysis in combination with diagnostic ratios. Vehicle exhaust was the major PAHs source in Shenzhen, accounting for 50.0% of the total PAHs emissions, whereas coal combustion and solid waste incineration contributed to 29.4% and 20.6% of the total PAHs concentration, respectively. The results clearly indicated that the increasing solid waste incinerators have become a new important PAHs source in this region.