The rainfall and runoff relationship becomes an intriguing issue as urbanization continues to evolve worldwide. In this paper, we developed a simulation model based on the soil conservation service curve number (SCS-CN) method to analyze the rainfall-runoff relationship in Guangzhou, a rapid growing metropolitan area in southern China. The SCS-CN method was initially developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is one of the most enduring methods for estimating direct runoff volume in ungauged catchments. In this model, the curve number (CN) is a key variable which is usually obtained by the look-up table of TR-55. Due to the limitations of TR-55 in characterizing complex urban environments and in classifying land use/cover types, the SCS-CN model cannot provide more detailed runoff information. Thus, this paper develops a method to calculate CN by using remote sensing variables, including vegetation, impervious surface, and soil (V-I-S). The specific objectives of this paper are: (1) To extract the V-I-S fraction images using Linear Spectral Mixture Analysis; (2) To obtain composite CN by incorporating vegetation types, soil types, and V-I-S fraction images; and (3) To simulate direct runoff under the scenarios with precipitation of 57mm (occurred once every five years by average) and 81mm (occurred once every ten years). Our experiment shows that the proposed method is OPEN ACCESS Remote Sens. 2013, 5 1426 easy to use and can derive composite CN effectively.