AbstractTreatment with water-soluble low-molecular weight phenol-formaldehyde resin is an effective method to improve wood properties. In this paper, plantation wood of Chinese fir was modified with low-molecular weight phenol-formaldehyde resin. The absorbance by tracheid cell walls of phenol-formaldehyde resin in treated and untreated reference samples were measured with an ultraviolet micro-spectrophotometer. The UV absorbance values of earlywood tracheids and middle lamella in treated wood were significantly increased, with an average increase of 49% and 23%, respectively. Moreover, after treatment with low-molecular weight phenol-formaldehyde resin, the UV absorbance of the earlywood tracheid cell walls of Chinese fir increased to more than 47%, regardless of whether or not the cell lumens were filled with resin. After treatment with low-molecular weight phenol-formaldehyde resin, the UV absorbance of earlywood tracheid cell walls at different locations did not vary greatly. This study provides direct support for the improvement of the physical and mechanical properties of resin-modified Chinese fir in terms of penetration of the resin into the cell walls.