Spatial and temporal trends of the typical pollutants in PRD viewed from space. Comparisons of the satellite retrievals with the collocated in situ data are given. Among different MCs, the control measures applied in PRD are the most effective. The unique HCHO trends imply significant contribution from the biogenic origins. The Pearl River Delta (PRD) is one of the most industrialized, urbanized and populated regions in China, and thus has been long suffering from severe air pollutions. Space data provide a unique perspective for investigating the atmospheric environment at a regional scale. By utilizing multiple satellite retrievals from 2005 to 2013, this study presented, for the first time, the spatial patterns and temporal trends of typical air pollutants over PRD and its vicinity. As viewed from space, aerosol optical depth (AOD), NO2 and SO2 all had their higher values at the central part of PRD, and showed clear descending gradients as moving to the outskirt of this region. As to the inter-annual variation, all these pollutants had decreasing trends in PRD during the study period, which generally agreed with the relevant in situ measurements. However, the satellite retrievals differed from ground measurements when addressing NO2 and SO2 in the vicinity of PRD. This work also provides the inter-comparison among PRD and three other metropolitan clusters in China: PRD had relatively high AOD, moderate NO2 and low SO2 levels, and it was the only region achieving the effective reduction of NO2 and SO2 during last decade. Unlike the previous three pollutants, HCHO observed by satellite showed very special patterns: it had a relatively homogeneous spatial distribution over both of PRD and its vicinity, and presented an opposite increasing trend from 2005 to 2010. Moreover, PRD had the highest HCHO level among all the metropolitan clusters, hinting a considerable contribution of biogenic origins of HCHO in PRD.