Cloud and aerosol effects have a significant impact on the atmospheric radiation budget in the tropical Atlantic because of the spatial and temporal extent of desert dust and smoke from biomass burning in the atmosphere. The influences of African dust and smoke aerosols on cloud radiative properties over the tropical Atlantic Ocean were analyzed for the month of July for 3 years (2006–2008) using colocated data collected by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) and Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments on the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) and Aqua satellites. Aerosol layer height and type can be accurately determined using CALIOP data through directly measured parameters such as optical depth, volume depolarization ratio, attenuated backscatter, and color ratio. On average, clouds below 5 km had a daytime instantaneous shortwave (SW) radiative flux of 270.2 ± 16.9 W/m2 and thin cirrus clouds had a SW radiative flux of 208.0 ± 12.7 W/m2. When dust aerosols interacted with clouds below 5 km, as determined from CALIPSO, the SW radiative flux decreased to 205.4 ± 13.0 W/m2. Similarly, smoke aerosols decreased the SW radiative flux of low clouds to a value of 240.0 ± 16.6 W/m2. These decreases in SW radiative flux were likely attributed to the aerosol layer height and changes in cloud microphysics. CALIOP lidar observations, which more accurately identify aerosol layer height than passive instruments, appear essential for better understanding of cloud-aerosol interactions, a major uncertainty in predicting the climate system.