The abundances of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the priority list of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) have been determined in 14 Chinese and American coals. The ranks of the samples range from lignite, bituminous coal, anthracite, to natural coke. Soxhlet extraction was conducted on each coal for 48 h. The extract was analyzed on a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS). The results show that the total PAH content ranged from 0.31 to 57.6 ??g/g of coal (on a dry basis). It varied with coal rank and is highest in the maturity range of bituminous coal rank. High-molecular-weight (HMW) PAHs are predominant in low-rank coals, but low-molecular-weight (LMW) PAHs are predominant in high-rank coals. The low-sulfur coals have a higher PAH content than high-sulfur coals. It may be explained by an increasing connection between disulfide bonds and PAHs in high-sulfur coal. In addition, it leads us to conclude that the PAH content of coals may be related to the depositional environment. ?? 2010 American Chemical Society.