The timing of the development of the East Asian monsoon in the geologic past is critically important for paleoclimatological studies, yet few quantitative data are available. Based on palynomorphs from six formations, supplemented by leaf fossils from one of these formations in Fushun, northeastern China, we present a quantitative estimate of the evolution of precipitation in this area during the middle Paleocene–late Eocene. The results demonstrate that seasonal precipitation prevailed during the interval, suggesting that the monsoonal system had already developed by this time. Comparing Paleogene climatic results from different latitudes in eastern China, we conclude that the East Asian monsoon must have been significantly enhanced after the late middle Eocene (∼41–40 Ma), due to increased precipitation differentiation between wet and dry months as shown in the present study. The influence of both the uplift of the Da Hinggan Mountains in northeastern Asia on regional topography and the India-Asia collision globally may have contributed to early monsoon intensification by their influence on air mass movement and associated precipitation patterns in the monsoonal realm.