There exist numerous global aerosol products derived from various satellite sensors, but little insight has been gained about their compatibility and quality. This study presents a comparison of two prominent global aerosol products derived over oceans from the advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) under the Global Aerosol Climatology Project (GACP) (Mishchenko et al., 1999) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) (Tanré et al., 1997). The comparisons are for monthly mean aerosol optical thickness (AOT) and Ångström exponent (α) at a spatial resolution of 1 × 1 degree. The two monthly AOT products showed substantial discrepancies, with a tendency of higher values from MODIS than from GACP/AVHRR, especially near the coasts of major aerosol outbreak regions. Individual monthly AOT values have poor correlation, but their regional means are moderately correlated (correlation coefficient 0.5 < R < 1.0). While cloud screening has often been argued to be a major factor explaining large discrepancies, this study shows that differences in aerosol models in the two retrieval algorithms can lead to large discrepancies. Contributions of the size distribution are more significant than the refractive index. The noisiness of the GACP/AVHRR aerosol retrievals seem to be partially influenced by radiometric uncertainties in the AVHRR system, but it is unlikely a major factor to explain the observed systematic discrepancies between the MODIS and GACP/AVHRR AOTs. For α, correlations between MODIS and GACP/AVHRR are lower (0.2 < R < 0.7) than AOT. The MODIS α shows a well-behaved dependence on the AOT contingent upon the aerosol type, while the GACP/AVHRR α has little correlation with the AOT. The high sensitivity in the selection of aerosol models to radiometric errors may be a primary reason for the worse comparison of α. Part of the discrepancies in α is attributed to different aerosol size distributions.