The present work is the first attempt to compare the data of a comprehensive study of the origin and distribution of 16 priority pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface sediments (<63 μm) from 18 sampling stations, 9 from Sundarban of Bangladesh and 9 from Indian counterpart. Σ19PAHs concentration in sediments showed wide variations from 208.3 to 12,993.1 ng g-1 dry weight in Indian Sundarban, whereas 208.4 to 4,687.9 ng g-1 in the case of Bangladesh. Fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene were predominant species for both the countries. The PAH diagnostic ratios indicated that the PAHs in sediments from both the countries were of mixed source of hydrocarbons of both petrogenic and pyrolytic origin. According to the numerical effect-based sediment quality guidelines, the levels of PAHs in the Sundarban wetland of Bangladesh and India should not exert adverse biological effects. The TEQ values calculated for samples from the Bangladesh and Indian Sundarban varied from 13.68 to 1,014.75 and 1.31 to 2,451 ng g-1 d. w. with an average of 221.02 and 358.63 ng g-1, respectively. The overall contamination status of PAH was higher in India than Bangladesh. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.