The accuracy of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer’s (MODIS) aerosol products is still uncertain in China, due to a lack of validation by long-term and large-scale ground-based observations. In this paper, the MODIS aerosol optical depth (AOD) product is evaluated using Chinese Sun Hazemeter Network (CSHNET) data as ground truths over different ecological regions in China during the East Asian Study of Tropospheric Aerosols—an International Regional Experiment (EAST-AIRE). The evaluation results show very large differences in the MODIS AOD retrieval between different ecosystems and geographic locations. The most agreement between the MODIS data and that of the CSHNET was in farmland sites in central-southern China, where high correlation (R40.82) and large percentages (R2472%) within the expected error lines issued by NASA were found. In temperate forest, coastal regions, and northeast and central farmlands, there appeared moderate agreement, with R 0.64–0.80 and 45–73% of retrieval data falling within the expected errors. The poorest agreement existed in northern arid and semiarid regions, in remote northeast farmlands, in the Tibetan and Loess Plateau, and in southern forests, with 13–54% of retrieval data falling within the expected errors. In addition, the MODIS AOD retrievals were significantly overestimated in the northern arid and semiarid regions and underestimated in remote northeast farmlands and southern forests. r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.