The concentrations, distribution, possible sources, and cancer risks of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in total suspended particles (TSPs) and surface soils collected from the same sampling spots were compared in Kunming, China. The total PAH concentrations were 9.35-75.01 ng/m(3) and 101.64-693.30 ng/g dry weight (d.w.), respectively, in TSPs and surface soils. Fluoranthene (FLA), pyrene (PYR), chrysene (CHR), and phenanthrene (PHE) were the abundant compounds in TSP samples, and phenanthrene (PHE), fluorene (FLO), fluoranthene (FLA), benzo[b]fluoranthene (BbF), and benzo[g,h,i]perylene (BghiP) were the abundant compounds in surface soil samples. The spatial distribution of PAHs in TSPs is closely related to the surrounding environment, which varied significantly as a result of variations in source emission and changes in meteorology. However, the spatial distribution of PAHs in surface soils is supposed to correlate with a city's urbanization history, and high levels of PAHs were always observed in industry district, or central or old district of city. Based on the diagnostic ratios and principal component analysis (PCA), vehicle emissions (especially diesel-powered vehicles) and coal and wood combustion were the main sources of PAHs in TSPs, and the combustion of wood and coal, and spills of unburnt petroleum were the main sources of PAHs in the surface soils. The benzo[a]pyrene equivalent concentration (BaPeq) for the TSPs and surface soil samples were 0.16-2.57 ng/m(3) and 11.44-116.03 ng/g d.w., respectively. The incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) exposed to particulate PAHs ranged from 10(-4) to 10(-3) indicating high potential of carcinogenic risk, and the ILCR exposed to soil PAHs was from 10(-7) to 10(-6) indicating virtual safety. These presented results showed that particle-bound PAHs had higher potential carcinogenic ability for human than soil PAHs. And, the values of cancer risk for children were always higher than for adults, which demonstrated that children were sensitive to carcinogenic effects of PAHs.