[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study presented here is a laboratory pilot study using diluted car exhaust from a single vehicle to assess differences in toxicological response between primary emissions and secondary products resulting from atmospheric photochemical reactions of gas phase compounds with O₃, OH and other radicals. Sprague Dawley rats were exposed for 5 h to either filtered room air (sham) or one of two different atmospheres: (i) diluted car exhaust (P)+Mt. Saint Helens Ash (MSHA); (ii) P+MSHA+secondary organic aerosol (SOA, formed during simulated photochemical aging of diluted exhaust). Primary and secondary gases were removed using a nonselective diffusion denuder. Continuous respiratory data was collected during the exposure, and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and complete blood counts (CBC) were performed 24 h after exposure. ANOVA models were used to assess the exposure effect and to compare those effects across different exposure types. Total average exposures were 363 ± 66 μg/m³ P+MSHA and 212 ± 95 µg/m³ P+MSHA+SOA. For both exposures, we observed decreases in breathing rate, tidal and minute volumes (TV, MV) and peak and median flows (PIF, PEF and EF50) along with increases in breathing cycle times (Ti, Te) compared to sham. These results indicate that the animals are changing their breathing pattern with these test atmospheres. Exposure to P+MSHA+SOA produced significant increases in total cells, macrophages and neutrophils in the BAL and in vivo chemiluminescence of the lung. There were no significant differences in CBC parameters. Our data suggest that simulated atmospheric photochemistry, producing SOA in the P+MSHA+SOA exposures, enhanced the toxicity of vehicular emissions.