This study analyzed the variability and trends in precipitable water vapor (PWV) in North China from 1979 to 2015. The spatial distribution of annual mean PWV was generally characterized by two high PWV centers in Eastern China and the Tarim Basin and two low PWV centers in Northern Tibet and Qinghai Province and in Inner Mongolia. The levels of seasonal mean PWV were highest in summer, followed by autumn and spring, and lowest in winter. The maximum monthly mean PWV occurred in July and August, while the minimum occurred in December to February. Increasing trends in PWV, with the trend magnitude ranging from 0.1 to 1.2 mm decade−1 over North China, were observed in the radiosonde, ERA-interim, and MERRA-2 PWV data from 1979 to 1999; but a slightly decreasing trend of −0.4 mm decade−1 from radiosonde was found in most regions of North China from 1979 to 2007. A monotonically increasing PWV trend was detected throughout North China between 1979 and 1999, with the maximum trend occurring in summer and the minimum occurring in winter. For the period of 1979–2007, a slightly but less marked decreasing trend was found at most stations in North China in all four seasons.