Although the collapses of several Neolithic cultures in China are considered to have been associated with abrupt climate change during the 4.2 ka BP event (4.2- 3.9 ka BP), the timing and nature of this event and the spatial distribution of precipitation between northern and southern China are still controversial. The hydroclimate of this event in southeastern China is still poorly known, except for a few published records from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. In this study, a high-resolution record of monsoon precipitation between 5.3 and 3.57 ka BP based on a stalagmite from Shennong Cave, Jiangxi Province, southeast China, is presented. Coherent variations in δ18O and δ13C reveal that the climate in this part of China was dominantly wet between 5.3 and 4.5 ka BP and mostly dry between 4.5 and 3.57 ka BP, interrupted by a wet interval (4.2-3.9 ka BP). A comparison with other records from monsoonal China suggests that summer monsoon precipitation decreased in northern China but increased in southern China during the 4.2 ka BP event. We propose that the weakened East Asian summer monsoon controlled by the reduced Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation resulted in this contrasting distribution of monsoon precipitation between northern and southern China. During the 4.2 ka BP event the rain belt remained longer at its southern position, giving rise to a pronounced humidity gradient between northern and southern China.