To estimate the distribution and sources of soil polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in metropolitan and adjacent areas, soil samples were collected from urban, suburban and rural locations of Dalian, China, and concentrations of 14 PAHs were determined. The spatial PAH profiles were site-specific and determined by the sources close to the sampling sites. PAH concentrations decreased significantly along the urban-suburban-rural transect. The gradient implied that the fractionation effect influenced PAH distribution. Bivariate plots of selected diagnostic ratios showed general trends of co-variation and allowed to distinguish samples taken from different areas. An improved method, factor analysis (FA) with nonnegative constrains, was used to determine the primary sources and contributions of PAHs in soils. The FA model showed traffic average (74%) and coal related residential emission (26%) were two primary sources to Dalian soils. In addition, the FA model provided reasonable explanations for PAH contributions in soils from different sites. The results suggest that FA with nonnegative constraints is a promising tool for source apportionment of PAHs in soils.