The 13 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) in northern China are located in latitude 31°–54°N and longitude 73°–136°E including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang, where environments are fragile. In recent years, the eco-environmental problems such as vegetation destruction, desertification and soil erosion etc. become serious because of climate change and unreasonable human activities. In this paper, landscape pattern and its evolution in northern China from 1989 to 2003 was investigated by the combined use of RS and GIS based on the basic theory and method of landscape ecology. Land use/cover maps of the study area in 1989, 1999 and 2003 were produced by using 1 km monthly NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and SPOT/VGT Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset from national climate bureau of China which were geo-registered to Lambert azimuthal equal-area map projection and were used in the paper. Landscape evolution in the area over the study period was investigated by two methods: (a) the changes of various landscape metrics were analyzed using the landscape structure analysis program FRAGSTATS; (b) the transition matrix of landscape patch types was calculated with the help of the RS and GIS software. The results showed that from 1989 to 2003, the landscape within the study area had undertaken a complicated evolution in landscape structure and composition. The diversity index and evenness index increased during the period, which means that the landscape pattern tended to be diversified and even. The fragmentation index of grassland, forestland and water areas also increased significantly. This showed that the distribution and structure of forestland, grassland and water areas had been changed greatly during the period, especially grassland which became more and more fragmentized, and its fragmentation index increased from 19.23% to 88.72%. The transitions of the landscape types were mainly shown by the changes among forestland, grassland and farmland, and grassland changing into unable land. Over the study period, grassland and water areas had decreased remarkably, accounting for 15% and 37% from 1989 to 1999 and 24.79% and 49.25% from 1999 to 2003 respectively. The grassland and water resources play an important role in the eco-environment and economic development of the region. So, they must be protected carefully. According to the analysis, we can conclude that the eco-environment in the study area is obviously degenerated due to unreasonable human activities and climate changes and some measures should be taken to combat the environ-mental degradation.