This study provides a life cycle assessment (LCA) of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) fuel cycle. PHEVs recharging from the average electricity generation mix of China provide 16%-29% fossil energy consumption reduction, 39%-52% petroleum energy consumption reduction and 5%-26% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction compared with conventional gasoline vehicle. The range of the results is primarily attributed to the different all electric range (AER) and PHEV types (power-split versus series designs). Impacts of electricity generation mix for battery recharging are studied by six different interprovincial power grids, one prediction electricity scenario, and the average electricity generation mix of China. Fossil energy consumption and GHG emissions of PHEVs recharging from six different interprovincial power grids show 9%-24% and 12%-29% differences respectively. PHEV has large potential to reduce petroleum fuel use, but GHG emissions depend on the electricity generation mix for battery recharging. The potential for reducing GHG emissions could be larger if electricity in China were generated using low-carbon sources.