It has recently been recognized that air and noise pollution constitutes an extended problem over the densely populated city of Buenos Aires. Traffic emissions are of paramount concern, especially along narrow and main traffic arteries. In spite of these considerations, few systematic studies have been undertaken to evaluate the air quality in the metropolitan area of the city. In 1996, concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO 2) and ozone (O 3) were simultaneously measured for the first time using a continuous monitoring station. This station was placed in a building at Belgrano Avenue, which is a heavy traffic street in the downtown area of the city (Bogo et al., Atmospheric Environment 33 (1999) 2587. In this work, we analyze the dependence of the measured primary pollutants, CO and the mixture of nitrogen oxides (NO x), with meteorological conditions, traffic emissions and monitoring location. We compare the registered values with the results obtained from modeling the dispersion of the pollutants emitted from mobile and area sources. We also discuss the relevance of street canyon effects compared with background concentrations of these pollutants.