The spatio-temporal distributions and the ecological and health risks of PAEs in surface water of Lake Chaohu, the fifth largest lake in China, were studied based on the monthly monitoring of six PAE congeners from May 2010 to April 2011. The annual total concentration of the six PAE congeners (Σ6PAE) in the surface water ranged from 0.467 to 17.953μgL(-1), with the average value of 4.042±3.929μgL(-1). The di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) that dominated the Σ6PAE at 65.8% was found at its highest and lowest levels in the western lake (TX) and eastern drinking water source area (JC), respectively. The temporal distributions of Σ6PAE showed that the highest and lowest levels were observed in September 2010 and June 2010, respectively. The different relationships between the runoff and the PAEs with low and high levels of carbon might suggest their different sources. The DnBP had much greater ecological risks than the other studied PAE congeners as indicated by its potential affected fractions (PAFs) and the margin of safety (MOS10). The PAE congeners studied posed little health risk to the nearby male and female citizens.