Overgrazing has been the primary cause of grassland degradation in the semi-arid grasslands of the agro-pastoral transition zone in northern China. However, there has been little evidence regarding grazing intensity impacts on vegetation change and soil C and N dynamics in this region. This paper reports the effects of four grazing intensities namely un-grazed (UG), lightly grazed (LG), moderately grazed (MG) and heavily grazed (HG) on vegetation characteristics and soil properties of grasslands in the Guyuan county in the agro-pastoral transition region, Hebei province, northern China. Our study showed that the vegetation height, canopy cover, plant species abundance and aboveground biomass decreased significantly with increased grazing intensity. Similarly, soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (STN) in the 0-50 cm were highest under UG (13.3 kg C m-2 and 1.69 kg N m-2) and lowest under HG (9.8 kg C m-2 and 1.22 kg N m-2). Soil available nitrogen (SAN) was significantly lower under HG (644 kg N hm-2) than under other treatments (725-731 kg N hm-2) in the 0-50 cm. Our results indicate that the pasture management of "take half-leave half" has potential benefits for primary production and livestock grazing in this region. However, grazing exclusion was perhaps the most effective choice for restoring degraded grasslands in this region. Therefore, flexible rangeland management should be adopted in this region.