Atmospheric particulate matter has a substantial impact on global climate due to its ability to absorb/scatter solar radiation and act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Yet, little is known about marine aerosol, in particular, the carbonaceous fraction. In the present work, particulate matter was collected, using High Volume (HiVol) samplers, onto quartz fiber substrates during a series of research cruises on the Atlantic Ocean. Samples were collected on board the R/V Endeavor on West–East (March–April, 2006) and East–West (June–July, 2006) transects in the North Atlantic, as well as on the R/V Polarstern during a North–South (October–November, 2005) transect along the western coast of Europe and Africa. The aerosol total carbon (TC) concentrations for the West–East (Narragansett, RI, USA to Nice, France) and East–West (Heraklion, Crete, Greece to Narragansett, RI, USA) transects were generally low over the open ocean (0.36±0.14 μg C/m3) and increased as the ship approached coastal areas (2.18±1.37 μg C/m3), due to increased terrestrial/anthropogenic aerosol inputs. The TC for the North–South transect samples decreased in the southern hemisphere with the exception of samples collected near the 15th parallel where calculations indicate the air mass back trajectories originated from the continent. Seasonal variation in organic carbon (OC) was seen in the northern hemisphere open ocean samples with average values of 0.45 μg/m3 and 0.26 μg/m3 for spring and summer, respectively. These low summer time values are consistent with SeaWiFS satellite images that show decreasing chlorophyll a concentration (a proxy for phytoplankton biomass) in the summer. There is also a statistically significant (p<0.05) decline in surface water fluorescence in the summer. Moreover, examination of water–soluble organic carbon (WSOC) shows that the summer aerosol samples appear to have a higher fraction of the lower molecular weight material, indicating that the samples may be more oxidized (aged). The seasonal variation in aerosol content seen during the two 2006 cruises is evidence that a primary biological marine source is a significant contributor to the carbonaceous particulate in the marine atmosphere and is consistent with previous studies of clean marine air masses.