The town of Shuitou was renowned as the leather capital of China because of its large-scale tanning industry, but the industry's lack of pollution controls has caused severe damage to the local water system. This study determined 15 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in water, sediment, soil, and plant samples collected from Aojiang River and its estuary. The total PAHs ranged from 910 to 1520 ng/L in water samples. The total PAH in sediments were moderate to low in comparison with other rivers and estuaries in China, but the relative proportions of PAHs per million people are high when considering the population size associated with each watershed. Ratios of fluoranthene/pyrene and PAHs with low/high molecular weight suggest a petrogenic PAH origin. The PAH composition profile in soil was similar to that in sediment with 4-6 ring PAHs being dominant. The PAHs with 2-3 rings were the dominant species in plant leaves. There were no correlations between PAHs in soils and in plants, suggesting that PAHs accumulate in plant leaves through absorption from the air. The general observation of elevated PAH concentrations in all matrix suggests a possible contribution by the local leather industry on the PAH concentrations in the Aojiang watershed.