The present paper reviews existing knowledge with regard to Organic Aerosol (OA) of importance for global climate modelling and defines critical gaps needed to reduce the involved uncertainties. All pieces required for the representation of OA in a global climate model are sketched out with special attention to Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA): The emission estimates of primary carbonaceous particles and SOA precursor gases are summarized. The up-to-date understanding of the chemical formation and transformation of condensable organic material is outlined. Knowledge on the hygroscopicity of OA and measurements of optical properties of the organic aerosol constituents are summarized. The mechanisms of interactions of OA with clouds and dry and wet removal processes parameterisations in global models are outlined. This information is synthesized to provide a continuous analysis of the flow from the emitted material to the atmosphere up to the point of the climate impact of the produced organic aerosol. The sources of uncertainties at each step of this process are highlighted as areas that require further studies. © 2005 Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.