This paper discusses the use of substance flow analysis (SFA) as a tool to support quantified research on urban drainage systems. Based on the principle of mass balance, a static substance flow model is established to describe and examine the routes and intensities of water, chemical oxygen demand (COD), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) for a representative hypothetical city (RH city) in China, which is a devised and scaled city using statistical characteristics of urban circumstances at the national level. It is estimated that the annual flux of water, COD, TN and TP through the urban drainage system in 2010 was 55.1 million m , 16037.3 t, 1649.5 t and 209.7 t, respectively. The effluent of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was identified as the most important pathway for pollutant emissions, which contributed approximately 60% of COD, 65% of TN and 50% of TP to receiving water. During the wastewater treatment process, 1.0 million m , 7042.5 t, 584.2 t and 161.4 t of the four studied substances had been transmitted into sludge, meanwhile 3813.0 t of COD and 394.0 t of TN were converted and emitted to the atmosphere. Compared with the representative hypothetical city of 2000, urban population and the area of urban built districts had expanded by approximately 90% and 80% respectively during the decade, resulting in a more than threefold increase in the input of substances into the urban drainage system. Thanks to the development of urban drainage systems, the total loads of the city were maintained at a similar level.