Airborne measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were performed during CalNex 2010 (California Research at the Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change) in the Los Angeles (LA) basin in May–June 2010 and during ITCT2k2 (Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation) in May 2002. While CO2 enhancements in the basin were similar between the two years, the ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratio had decreased by about a factor of two. The ΔVOC/ΔCO emission ratios stayed relatively constant between the two years. This indicates that, relative to CO2, VOCs in the LA basin also decreased by about a factor of two since 2002. These data are compared with the results from various previous field campaigns dating back as early as 1960 and from the extensive air quality monitoring system in the LA basin going back to 1980. The results show that the mixing ratios of VOCs and CO have decreased by almost two orders of magnitude during the past five decades at an average annual rate of about 7.5%. Exceptions to this trend are the small alkanes ethane and propane, which have decreased slower due to the use and production of natural gas. A comparison with trends in London, UK shows that, due to stricter regulations at the time, VOC mixing ratios in LA decreased earlier than in London, albeit at a slower rate, such that typical mixing ratios in both cities in 2008 were at about the same level.