High winter-time PM(10), sulfate, nitrate and ammonium levels in Istanbul were investigated using a high resolution WRF/CMAQ mesoscale model system. A model-ready anthropogenic emission inventory on 2 km spatial resolution was developed for the area and the present study is the first attempt to test these emissions. The results suggested that the system was capable of producing the magnitudes. PM(10) levels calculated by the model underestimated the observations with an average of 10 per cent at Bogazici University sampling station, whereas an overestimation of 12 per cent is calculated for all stations. High uncertainties, particularly in traffic and coal combustion, led to over estimations around emission hot spots. Base case results together with the sensitivity studies pointed significant contribution of local sources, pointing to the need of control strategies focusing on primary particulate emissions. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.