The atmospheric concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone were measured by the DNPH-technique at the semi-rural site Lille Valby, Denmark (55 degrees N) between May-July 1995, The average concentrations were observed to be 1.2 ppbv for formaldehyde, 0.8 ppbv for acetaldehyde and 1.9 ppbv for acetone, For the set of carbonyl compounds, concentrations were found to be highly correlated, though only during daytime, The weak correlations observed during nighttime are believed to be caused by the dry deposition of especially formaldehyde, During periods with low photochemical activity the carbonyl compounds also correlated with SO2 and the levels of carbonyl compounds were mainly controlled by meteorological parameters. The highest concentration levels were coincident with episodes of long-range transport from central Europe. A pronounced diurnal profile similar to those observed for PAN and ozone during high-pressure episodes also indicated that photochemical production was a major controlling factor. Here the highest concentrations of carbonyl compounds were observed in air masses with the highest photochemical age (PCA) and a likely source was determined to be the oxidation of hydrocarbons during long-range transport. Especially, the concentration levels of acetone showed a pronounced seasonal-variation with the highest levels observed during summertime and lowest in winter and spring. The seasonal variation in the concentration levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were small, thus indicating a low net photochemical production of these components. The measurements were validated by a laboratory intercomparison and good agreement was observed. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.