Springtime regional CO variability in the boundary layer and lower free troposphere in recent years has been studied by a combination of chemical transport models, satellite retrievals and surface-based measurements. Based upon the surface-level measurements and satellite observations, the CO mixing ratios and column densities downwind of the continental outflow were found to have significant reductions in the springtime of 2009 and 2010. Under the influence of continental outflow, there were 58% and 38% decreases in the monthly mean mixing ratios at a rural coastal site in March and April 2009–10, respectively, compared to the 2007–08 figure. Other than the global economic recession, the CO reductions downwind are attributed to the recent implementation of effective anthropogenic CO emissions control in China. The CO simulations by the MM5-CMAQ modeling system with fixed annual emissions support this argument. Features of frontal passage, including the higher CO mixing ratios in the post-frontal stage, were well-captured by the modeling system. The high-resolution nested-grid GEOS-Chem model was used to better characterize the downwind influences of CO due to the biomass burning in Southeast Asia in March and April 2008. The computed CO mixing ratios agreed well with satellite observations at 700 hPa during selected episodes when intense biomass burning activities in Southeast Asia were observed by the satellite images. The biomass-burning-derived CO provided a large contribution (33–86%) to the total CO mixing ratio in the lower free troposphere downwind over the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean, based on the modeling results. Vertical export of CO in active convection events near the source region was evident.