Following wood pyrolysis, tar ball aerosols were laboratory generated from wood tar separated into polar and nonpolar phases. Chemical information of fresh tar balls was obtained from a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) and single-particle laser desorption/resonance enhanced multiphoton ionization mass spectrometry (SP-LD-REMPI-MS). Their continuous refractive index (RI) between 365 and 425 rim was retrieved using a broadband cavity enhanced spectroscopy (BBCES). Dynamic changes in the optical and chemical properties for the nonpolar tar ball aerosols in NOx-dependent photo-chemical process were investigated in an oxidation flow reactor (OFR). Distinct differences in the chemical composition of the fresh polar and nonpolar tar aerosols were identified. Nonpolar tar aerosols contain predominantly high-molecular weight unsubstituted and alkyl-substituted polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), while polar tar aerosols consist of a high number of oxidized aromatic substances (e.g., methoxy-phenols, benzenediol) with higher O : C ratios and carbon oxidation states. Fresh tar balls have light absorption characteristics similar to atmospheric brown carbon (BrC) aerosol with higher absorption efficiency towards the UV wavelengths. The average retrieved RI is 1.661 + 0.020i and 1.635 + 0.003i for the nonpolar and polar tar aerosols, respectively, with an absorption Angstrom exponent (AAE) between 5.7 and 7.8 in the detected wavelength range. The RI fits a volume mixing rule for internally mixed nonpolar/polar tar balls. The RI of the tar ball aerosols decreased with increasing wavelength under photochemical oxidation. Photolysis by UV light (254 nm), without strong oxidants in the system, slightly decreased the RI and increased the oxidation state of the tar balls. Oxidation under varying OH exposure levels and in the absence of NOx diminished the absorption (bleaching) and increased the O : C ratio of the tar balls. The photobleaching via OH radical initiated oxidation is mainly attributed to decomposition of chromophoric aromatics, nitrogen-containing organics, and high-molecular weight components in the aged particles. Photolysis of nitrous oxide (N2O) was used to simulate NOx-dependent photochemical aging of tar balls in the OFR. Under high-NOx conditions with similar OH exposure, photochemical aging led to the formation of organic nitrates, and increased both oxidation degree and light absorption for the aged tar ball aerosols. These observations suggest that secondary organic nitrate formation counteracts the bleaching by OH radical photooxidation to eventually regain some absorption of the aged tar ball aerosols. The atmospheric implication and climate effects from tar balls upon various oxidation processes are briefly discussed.