Abstract Separation and analysis of aromatic hydrocarbons (AHs) from coals is of considerable significance for both fuel and non-fuel use of the coals. In present work two Chinese bituminous coals were selected for separation of AHs by ultrasonic extraction with CS 2 followed by column chromatography using hexane as eluent. A series of AHs were separated from the two coals and analyzed by GC/MS. FTIR was employed to characterize the raw coals and the extracted residues. The results of GC/MS analysis show that the separated AHs are mono- to tetracyclic arenes, among which the principle AHs are alkyl naphthalenes and phenanthrenes. Obvious differences in the composition and the structure of AHs exist between the two coals, i.e., the AHs from Tongting coal tend to be higher rings compared to those from Pingshuo coal both from the variety and from the abundance of the AHs. FTIR analysis shows that the raw and extracted coals are similar in terms of functional groups, suggesting that the composition and structure of CS 2 extract, especially the AHs, from coals can be used to interpret the coal structure to some extent.