Landsat has successfully been applied to map Secchi disk depth of inland water bodies. Operational use for monitoring a dynamic variable like Secchi disk depth is however limited by the 16-day overpass cycle of the Landsat system and cloud cover. Low spatial resolution Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image captured twice a day could potentially overcome these problems. However, its potential for mapping Secchi disk depth of inland water bodies has so far rarely been explored. This study compared two image sources, MODIS and Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM), for mapping the tempo-spatial dynamics of Secchi disk depth in Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve, China. Secchi disk depths recorded at weekly intervals from April to October in 2004 and 2005 were related to 5 Landsat TM and 22 MODIS images respectively. Two multiple regression models including the blue and red bands of Landsat TM and MODIS respectively explained 83% and 88% of the variance of the natural logarithm of Secchi disk depth. The standard errors of the predictions were 0.20 and 0.37 m for Landsat TM and MODIS-based models. A high correlation (r=0.94) between the predicted Secchi disk depth derived from the two models was observed. A discussion of advantages and disadvantages of both sensors leads to the conclusion that MODIS offers the possibility to monitor water transparency more regularly and cheaply in relatively big and frequently cloud covered lakes as is with Poyang Lake.