Eight field campaigns in the eutrophic, shallow, Lake Taihu in the summers from 2005 to 2007, and a phytoplankton degradation experiment of 33 days, were carried out to determine the contribution of phytoplankton degradation to CDOM. Significant and positive correlations were found between the CDOM absorption coefficient at 355 nm [a(CDOM)(355)], normalized fluorescence emission (QSU) at 450 nm from excitation at 355 nm [F-n(355)], and the chlorophyll a (Chla) concentration for all eight field campaigns, which indicates that the decomposition and degradation of phytoplankton is an important source of CDOM. In the degradation experiment, the CDOM absorption coefficient increased as phytoplankton broke down during the first 12 days, showing the production of CDOM from phytoplankton. After 12 days, a(CDOM)(355) had increased from the initial value 0.41 +/- 0.03 m(-1) to 1.37 +/- 0.03 m(-1) (a 234% increase), and the Chla concentration decreased from the initial value of 349.1 +! /- 11.2 mu g/L to 30.4 +/- 13.2 mu g/L (a 91.3% decrease). The mean daily production rate of CDOM from phytoplankton was 0.08 m(-1) for a(CDOM) (355). Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC) was used to assess CDOM composition from EEM spectra, and four components were identified: a terrestrial-like humic component, two marine-like humic components, and a protein-like component. The rapid increase in marine-like humic fluorophores (C3 and C4) during the degradation experiment suggests that in situ production of CDOM plays an important role in the dynamics of CDOM. The field campaigns and experimental data in the present study show that phytoplankton can be one of the important CDOM producers in eutrophic shallow lakes.