In this paper the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) MSC-W model is used to assess our understanding of the sources of carbonaceous aerosol in Europe (organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), or their sum, total carbon (TC)). The modeling work makes use of new data from two extensive measurement campaigns in Europe, those of the CARBOSOL project and of the EMEP EC/OC campaign. As well as EC and OC measurements, we are able to compare with levoglucosan, a tracer of wood-burning emissions, and with the source apportionment (SA) analysis of Gelencsér et al. (2007), which apportioned TC into primary versus secondary and fossil fuel versus biogenic origin. The model results suggest that emissions of primary EC and OC from fossil fuel sources are probably captured to better than a factor of two at most sites. Discrepancies for wintertime OC at some sites can likely be accounted for in terms of missing wood-burning contributions. Two schemes for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) contribution are included in the model, and we show that model results for TC are very sensitive to the choice of scheme. In northern Europe the model seems to capture TC levels rather well with either SOA scheme, but in southern Europe the model strongly underpredicts TC. Comparison against the SA results shows severe underprediction of the SOA components. This modeling work confirms the difficulties of modeling SOA in Europe, but shows that primary emissions constitute a significant fraction of ambient TC.