Satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data have been used extensively to detect and monitor vegetation conditions at regional and global levels. A combination of NDVI data sets derived from AVHRR and MODIS can be used to construct a long NDVI time series that may also be extended to VIIRS. Comparative analysis of NDVI data derived from AVHRR and MODIS is critical to understanding the data continuity through the time series. In this study, the AVHRR and MODIS 16-day composite NDVI products were compared using regression and agreement analysis methods. The analysis shows a high agreement between the AVHRR-NDVI and MODIS-NDVI observed from 2002 and 2003 for the conterminous United States, but the difference between the two data sets is appreciable. Twenty per cent of the total difference between the two data sets is due to systematic difference, with the remainder due to unsystematic difference. The systematic difference can be eliminated with a linear regression-based transformation between two data sets, and the unsystematic difference can be reduced partially by applying spatial filters to the data. We conclude that the continuity of NDVI time series from AVHRR to MODIS is satisfactory, but a linear transformation between the two sets is recommended.