Pollen in Quaternary deposits from the subtropical Hanjiang Delta records three major phases in the local vegetation and climate history during the last 55,000 yr: (1) a prevalent cool-to-temperate and humid climate at ca. 24,000 14C yr B.P. is indicated by abundant pollen of temperate trees including conifers; (2) between 20,000 and 15,000 14C yr B.P., a cold, dry environment was associated with low sea level during the last glaciation, leading to subaerial exposure, weathering, and interruption of sedimentation, as well as departure from the region of Dacrydium and Sonneratia; (3) a short-term expansion of grassland at ca. 10,300 14C yr B.P. reduced the predominant Lauraceae-Fagaceae evergreen forest, possibly corresponding to the Younger Dryas cooling. The combined data indicate a maximum sea-level rise in the mid-Holocene (7500–4000 14C yr B.P.) and a marine influence in the late Pleistocene at 45,000–20,000 14C yr B.P. The Holocene warming, however, did not bring back moisture-sensitive taxa, indicating high seasonal aridity probably caused by renewed monsoon conditions.