Cluster analysis and principal component analysis were used to analyze the physical and chemical characteristics of water samples collected from 19 sampling sites along Xiangxi River. The result of cluster analysis showed that Xiangxi River could be divided into three reaches, which belonged to different sub-basins. The principle component analysis on each reach showed that the main information of water quality was different from each other. In the upper reach, the main information of river water quality was hardness and total alkalinity; in the middle reach, the main information was dissolved phosphorus, total phosphorus and Cl-, in the lower reach, the main information was pH, NO2--N, total nitrogen and COD. Furthermore, considering the geographical and environmental backgrounds of the Xiangxi River basin, the reason that caused the different distribution pattern of water quality in Xiangxi River was discussed. Hence, a simple approach to analyze the spatial distribution of water quality was provided.