Ground-based measurements of aerosols and trace gases were conducted at an urban site in Tokyo (Komaba) and a site 50 km to the north (Kisai) during July–August 2004. An Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) was deployed at each measurement site to investigate the chemical evolution of submicron organic aerosol (OA) in polluted air. The mass concentrations of OA at the Kisai site were systematically higher than those at the Komaba site and were correlated with ozone under southerly conditions. The rate of increase of OA at the Kisai site is investigated using the photochemical age derived from the ratio of alkyl nitrates to their parent hydrocarbons. The OA concentrations in processed air (age of 8–16 h) were 4–5 times larger than those in fresh emissions (age ∼ 0), suggesting that the OA concentrations can be significantly enhanced within ∼0.5 days under conditions of high photochemical activity.