To acquire daily estimates of PM2.5 distributions based on satellite data one depends critically on an established relation between AOD and ground level PM2.5. In this study we aimed to experimentally establish the AOD-PM2.5 relationship for the Netherlands. For that purpose an experiment was set-up at the AERONET site Cabauw. The average PM 2.5 concentration during this ten month study was 18 μg/m 3, which confirms that the Netherlands are characterised by a high PM burden. A first inspection of the AERONET level 1.5 (L1.5) AOD and PM2.5 data at Cabauw showed a low correlation between the two properties. However, after screening for cloud contamination in the AERONET L1.5 data, the correlation improved substantially. When also constraining the dataset to data points acquired around noon, the correlation between AOD and PM2.5 amounted to R2=0.6 for situations with fair weather. This indicates that AOD data contain information about the temporal evolution of PM2.5. We had used LIDAR observations to detect residual cloud contamination in the AERONET L1.5 data. Comparison of our cloud-screed L1.5 with AERONET L2 data that became available near the end of the study showed favorable agreement. The final relation found for Cabauw is PM 2.5=124.5*AODĝ€"0.34 (with PM2.5 in μg/m3) and is valid for fair weather conditions. The relationship determined between MODIS AOD and ground level PM2.5 at Cabauw is very similar to that based on the much larger dataset from the sun photometer data, after correcting for a systematic overestimation of the MODIS data of 0.05. We applied the relationship to a MODIS composite map to assess the PM2.5 distribution over the Netherlands. Spatial dependent systematic errors in the MODIS AOD, probably related to variability in surface reflectance, hamper a meaningful analysis of the spatial distribution of PM2.5 using AOD data at the scale of the Netherlands.