During this study 158 whole air samples were collected in 45 Chinese cities in January and February 2001. The spatial distribution of different classes of halocarbons in the Chinese urban atmosphere, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Halon-1211, and other chlorinated compounds is presented and discussed. Most of these compounds were enhanced compared to background levels. However, the mean enhancement of CFCs was relatively small, with CFC-12 and CFC-11 increases of 6% (range 1-31%) and 10% (range 2-89%), respectively, with respect to the global background. On the contrary, strongly enhanced levels of CFC replacement compounds and halogenated compounds used as solvents were measured. The average Halon-1211 concentration exceeded the background of 4.3 pptv by 75% and was higher than 10 pptv in several cities. Methyl chloride mixing ratios were also strongly elevated (78% higher than background levels), which is likely related to the widespread use of coal and biofuel in China. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.