Dissolved black carbon (DBC) is a series of intermediate products from black carbon (BC) degradation. It is an important part of dissolved organic carbon pool which relates to oceanic carbon budget and thereby plays a key role in global climate change. DBC is probably the main component of chromophoric dissolved organic matter, which can absorb solar radiation and change the optical environment of water, and then influences the functions and structures of aquatic ecosystems. It is also an organic coordination center which can easily form complex with metal ions and then influences the fate and toxicity of metal pollutants. For these reasons, DBC has received more and more attentions in recent years and some basic knowledge on DBC is available for us. However, ①There is still ambiguity in qualitative DBC so that DBC is a terminology more than a definition specially to describe a series of complicated compounds which consists of condensed aromatics as parent core and substituted with hydrophilic groups (mainly carboxyl). ②BC degradation is not the only source of DBC, other sources are urgently needed to be confirmed. ③The quantification of DBC is a great challenge for the high polarity of DBC and the complex matrices, which are difficult to be separated with DBC. Using benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCA) as molecule markers is a prospective method for the measurement of DBC, but there are still some problems that needed to be solved. ④The data on concentrations of DBC are sparse and varied in a wide range, making it difficult to estimate the pool and cycle period of DBC. This article summarizes the research progress in molecular level identification, sources, migration and transformation, measurement methods, concentrations and spatial distributions of DBC. One of the key points is the present status and problems of BPCA method. Finally, some suggestions are provided for further study.