AbstractConcentrations and distribution characteristics of organophosphate esters (OPEs) in surface sediment samples were analyzed and discussed for the first time in the open Bohai Sea (BS) and Yellow Sea (YS). Three halogenated OPEs [tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), tris-(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP), and tris-(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP)] and five non-halogenated OPEs [tri-isobutyl phosphate (TiBP), tri-n-butyl phosphate (TnBP), tripentyl phosphate (TPeP), triphenyl phosphate (TPhP) and tris-(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate (TEHP)] were detected in this region. The concentrations of eight OPEs in total (Σ8OPEs) ranged from 83 to 4552 pg g− 1 dry weight (dw). The halogenated OPEs showed higher abundances than the non-halogenated ones did, with TCEP, TCPP, and TEHP the main compounds. Generally, concentrations of OPEs in the BS were higher than those in the YS. Riverine input (mainly the Changjiang Diluted Water (CDW)) and deposition effect in the mud areas might have influenced the spatial distributions of OPEs. Correlation between OPE concentrations and total organic carbon (TOC) indicated TOC was an effective indicator for the distribution of OPEs. Inventory analysis of OPEs implied that sea sediment might not be the major reservoir of these compounds.