In this study, the setting property and mechanical strength of cement pastes containing accelerators (CPCA) with or without superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) were first studied. The early microstructure evolution and water distribution at 7 and 28 days were probed by 1D ( T₂) and 2D ( T₁- T₂ maps) H¹ nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxometry, and the microstructure was systematically investigated by using mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP), back-scattered electron (BSE) image and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis. Results showed that the SAPs in the cement paste containing accelerators had various influences on setting time and compressive strength depending on the type of accelerators. The presence of SAPs in the cement paste containing alkaline free accelerators could alleviate the decrease of internal relative humidity, promote hydration and help to modify the pore structure. Moreover, it was observed that the SAP cavities could be nicely filled with calcium hydroxide (CH) in the cement paste with alkaline free accelerators.