Imperviousness, considered as a critical indicator of the hydrologic impacts of urbanization, has gained increasing attention both in the research field and in practice. However, the effectiveness of imperviousness on rainfall–runoff dynamics has not been fully determined in a fine spatiotemporal scale. In this study, 69 drainage subareas <1 ha of a typical residential catchment in Beijing were selected to evaluate the hydrologic impacts of imperviousness, under a typical storm event with a 3-year return period. Two metrics, total impervious area (TIA) and effective impervious area (EIA), were identified to represent the impervious characteristics of the selected subareas. Three runoff variables, total runoff depth (TR), peak runoff depth (PR), and lag time (LT), were simulated by using a validated hydrologic model. Regression analyses were developed to explore the quantitative associations between imperviousness and runoff variables. Then, three scenarios were established to test the applicability of the results in considering the different infiltration conditions. Our results showed that runoff variables are significantly related to imperviousness. However, the hydrologic performances of TIA and EIA were scale dependent. Specifically, with finer spatial scale and the condition heavy rainfall, TIA rather than EIA was found to contribute more to TR and PR. EIA tended to have a greater impact on LT and showed a negative relationship. Moreover, the relative significance of TIA and EIA was maintained under the different infiltration conditions. These findings may provide potential implications for landscape and drainage design in urban areas, which help to mitigate the runoff risk. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.