Dissolved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and particulate PAHs in eight stations along the Yellow River were investigated in summer in July 2007. The dissolved PAHs ranged from 96.60 to 476.84 ng l<sup>-1</sup>, which were higher than that in many other rivers in the world. Dissolved benzo[a]pyrene in the most of the stations exceeded the Environmental Quality Standard. The particulate PAHs ranged from 31.47-514.22 ng l<sup>-1</sup>. Both particulate and dissolved PAHs showed an increasing trend from the upper to lower reaches. The particulate PAHs exhibited a linear correlation with total suspended solid (TSS) and particulate organic carbon (POC). The distribution coefficient (Kp) decreased with the increasing of TSS, and increased in the same order of organic carbon contents. Source analysis suggested that PAHs in middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River were derived from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, wood and gasoline with coal as the major source of contaminants.