Study on runoff variations and responses can lay a foundation for flood control, water allocation and integrated river basin management. This study applied the Soil and Water Assessment Tool model to simulate the effects of land use on annual and monthly runoff in the Middle and Upstream Reaches of Taoerhe River basin, Northeast China, under the wet, average and dry climate conditions through scenario analysis. The results showed that from the early 1970s to 2000, land use change with an increase in farmland (17.0%) and decreases in forest (10.6%), grassland (4.6%) and water body (3.1%) caused increases in annual and monthly runoff. This effect was more distinct in the wet season or in the wet year, suggesting that land use change from the early 1970s to 2000 may increase the flood potential in the wet season. Increases in precipitation and air temperature from the average to wet year led to annual and monthly (March and from June to December) runoff increases, while a decrease in precipitation and an increase in air temperature from the average to dry year induced decreases in annual and monthly (all months except March) runoff, and moreover, these effects were more remarkable in the wet season than those in the dry season. Due to the integrated effects of changing land use and climate conditions, the annual runoff increased (decreased) by 70.1 mm (25.2 mm) or 197.4% (71.0%) from the average to wet (dry) year. In conclusion, climate conditions, especially precipitation, played an important role in runoff variations while land use change was secondary over the study area, and furthermore, the effects of changes in land use and/or climate conditions on monthly runoff were larger in the wet season. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.