The role of aqueous multiphase chemistry in the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) remains difficult to quantify. We investigate it here by testing the rapid formation of moderate oxygen-to-carbon (O/C) SOA during a case study in Mexico City. A novel laboratory-based glyoxal-SOA mechanism is applied to the field data, and explains why less gas-phase glyoxal mass is observed than predicted. Furthermore, we compare an explicit gas-phase chemical mechanism for SOA formation from semi- and intermediate-volatility organic compounds (S/IVOCs) with empirical parameterizations of S/IVOC aging. The mechanism representing our current understanding of chemical kinetics of S/IVOC oxidation combined with traditional SOA sources and mixing of background SOA underestimates the observed O/C by a factor of two at noon. Inclusion of glyoxal-SOA with O/C of 1.5 brings O/C predictions within measurement uncertainty, suggesting that field observations can be reconciled on reasonable time scales using laboratory-based empirical relationships for aqueous chemistry.