Seventeen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were studied in surface waters (including particulate phase) from the Chenab River, Pakistan and ranged from 289-994 and 437-1290 ng l-1 in summer and winter (2007-09), respectively. Concentrations for different ring-number PAHs followed the trend: 3-rings > 2-rings > 4-rings > 5-rings > 6-rings. The possible sources of PAHs are identified by calculating the indicative ratios; appropriating petrogenic sources of PAHs in urban and sub-urban regions with pyrogenic sources in agricultural region. Factor analysis based on principal component analysis identified the origins of PAHs from industrial activities, coal and trash burning in agricultural areas and municipal waste disposal from surrounding urban and sub-urban areas via open drains into the riverine ecosystem. Water quality guidelines and toxic equivalent factors highlighted the potential risk of low molecular weight PAHs to the aquatic life of the Chenab River. The flux estimated for PAHs contaminants from the Chenab River to the Indus River was >50 tons/year.