An effort is made to identify the ‘more predictable’ signals in seasonal precipitation in the Eastern Yangtze–Huaihe River Valley of China based on the observations recorded for the period of 1951–2004 at a network of 23 stations in this region. A recently developed methodology for decomposing the interannual variance of seasonal mean climate fields is applied to precipitation time series at the stations. This allows the total interannual variance to be separated into the variance of a slow component, or predictable signal, and the variance of a more noisier component of rainfall associated with intraseasonal variability. The potential predictability (signal-to-total ratio) is generally moderate in this region and is lower during winter from January to March (JFM) and higher in summer from May to July (MJJ) and autumn from November to January (NDJ). Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is then applied to the predictable-, intraseasonal- and total-covariance matrices, respectively. Leading EOF modes of the total component more often resemble the EOF modes of the intraseasonal component when the potential predictability is lower and vice versa. Temporal variation of the leading modes in the predictable components is more closely linked to the interannual variability of Eastern Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) in early summer (MJJ), North Atlantic SST in late summer (JAS) and El Niño/Southern oscillation in late autumn (NDJ). The rainfall SST connections found in these seasons persist throughout the entire 54-year period. The predictable rainfall modes also have apparent linkages to the intensity and position of the Western Pacific subtropical high during the early summer and late autumn with more rainfall occurring in the region when the height pattern is more intensive and extends further west. During the late summer, the predictable rainfall variability is accompanied by a large variation of tropospheric advection from north of the region, indicating the impact of an anomalous atmospheric circulation associated with the variation of summer North Atlantic Oscillation.