The beam attenuation coefficient (c), an inherent optical property of water, can provide information about the particulate matter in the water. In this study, the vertical distribution of the particulate beam attenuation coefficient at 660 nm (cp(660)) and its correlation to the particulate organic carbon (POC) and chlorophyll a (Chl-a) concentrations in the north South China Sea (NSCS), was investigated based on the in situ data from two cruises covering the summer and autumn seasons during 2009-2010year. The results showed that in summer, the profiles of cp(660) at the near shore stations were generally well vertical mixed, except at the bottom layer where cp(660) sharply increased due to sediment resuspension. However, in the slope and basin, the profiles of cp(660) had the peak value in the subsurface layer, and the depth of maximum increased with the increasing of the water depth. The subsurface maximum of the cp(660) was corresponding to the subsurface maximum Chl-a in the shelf and basin in the NSCS in summer. In autumn, the depth profile of cp(660) was also well mixed in the near shore, similar as it in summer. In the basin, unlike the subsurface maximum in summer, cp(660) had the decreasing trend with the increasing of depth in most stations in autumn. The spatial distribution pattern of the surface cp(660) was similar in the two seasons, with high values in near shore and low values in the shelf and basin. This was mainly attributed to the river and terrigenous organic materials. There were good correlations between cp(660) and POC in both seasons, except some near shore stations with high sediment resuspension. That made the possibility of estimating the POC profile using the cp(660), and further calculating the vertical structure with satellite-derived surface POC.