Transport of boundary layer air to the free troposphere by cyclones during NASA's Transport and Chemical Evolution over the Pacific (TRACE-P) experiment is investigated. Airstreams responsible for boundary layer venting are diagnosed using results from a high-resolution meteorological model (MM5) together with in situ and remotely sensed chemical data. Hourly wind data from the MM5 are used to calculate three-dimensional grids of backward air trajectories. A reverse domain filling (RDF) technique then is employed to examine the characteristics of airstreams over the computational domain, and to isolate airstreams ascending from the boundary layer to the free troposphere during the previous 36 hours. Two cases are examined in detail. Results show that airstreams responsible for venting the boundary layer differ considerably from those described by classic conceptual models and in the recent literature. In addition, airstreams sampled by the TRACE-P aircraft are found to exhibit large variability in chemical concentrations. This variability is due to differences in the boundary layer histories of individual airstreams with respect to anthropogenic sources over continental Asia and Japan. Complex interactions between successive wave cyclones also are found to be important in determining the chemical composition of the airstreams. Particularly important is the process of post-cold frontal boundary layer air being rapidly transported offshore and recirculated into ascending airstreams of upstream cyclones.