Physical and optical characteristics of particles in smoke from 19 fires were measured in Brazil during the 1995 burning season as part of the Smoke, Clouds, and Radiation-Brazil (SCAR-B) project. The University of Washington C-131A measured particle sizes and absorption and scattering properties in very young smoke (<4 min old). These properties are related to fuel type, fire intensity, combustion efficiency, and particle composition. The count median diameter (CMD) of particles from tropical forest fires were strongly and positively correlated with the combustion efficiency. The particle volume median diameter (VMD) of the particles from forest fires did not correlate well with combustion efficiency, but it was highly correlated with the emission factors of particles and unsaturated hydrocarbons. The median diameter and standard deviation of the particle size spectra for smoke from grass and cerrado fires did not correlate with either the combustion efficiency or any emission factor. The measured particle radiative properties correlated well with the measured particle sizes and compositions, and the relationships between these parameters are described fairly well by Mie theory. The optical properties of smoke from individual biomass fires in Brazil differ significantly from those of smoke from biomass burning in North America. In particular, the total light-scattering coefficient for smoke particles in Brazil is, on average, 15% less than for smoke particles in North America. Also, the average values of the single-scattering albedos of smoke particles in Brazil are 0.05 to 0.1 less than those in North America.