We expanded the variational assimilation system of a regional dust model by using size-resolved inversion. Dust emissions and particle-size distributions of a severe dust and sandstorm (DSS) in April 2005 were inversely optimized with optical measurements by the National Institute for Environmental Studies lidar network. The inversion results successfully compensated underestimates by the original model and increased the Ångström exponent around the DSS core by 13–17%, shifting the particle-size distribution to finer. The a posteriori size distribution was distinctly different between eastern and western source regions. In the western regions, dust emissions in the 3.19 and 5.06μm size bins increased considerably, and the peak size shifted from 5.06 to 3.19 μm, whereas in the eastern regions, emissions of finer particles (bins 0.82–2.01 μm) increased. Differences in vegetation and soil type and moisture between eastern and western regions might explain the characteristics of the inverted size distribution.