Coal samples and carbonaceous mudstone were collected from the Huaibei coalfield, China, and experiments investigating the factors influencing the extraction of the sixteen US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were carried out. Different extraction times, solvents, and methods were used. Major interest was focused on finding optimum conditions for extracting the PAHs from coal. We conclude that (1) coal composition, including the H/C and O/C ratios, is an important factor for the distribution of PAHs in coals; (2) the total amount of EPA priority PAHs increases with increasing extraction time, 30 min being suitable for ultrasonic-assisted extraction and 24 h for Soxhlet extraction; (3) CS2 is effective in extracting low molecular weight PAHs, while CH2Cl2 is better for extracting high molecular weight PAHs (both are excellent extraction solvents vs hexane); (4) both Soxhlet and ultrasonic extraction showed a similar PAH concentration profile, but the ultrasonic method is less efficient. ?? 2007 American Chemical Society.