Indian cities feature high human population density, heterogeneous traffic, mixed land-use patterns and mostly tropical meteorological conditions. Characteristics of ambient CO2 concentrations under these distinctive features are very specific and the related studies are limited. This paper presents the characteristics of ground level CO2 concentrations at three contrasting land uses (residential, commercial and industrial) in a tropical urban area of India. The CO2 concentrations were monitored in Chennai city for 31 days at each land use during June-September, 2013. Emissions of CO2 from all the major anthropogenic sources present at the three study sites were also quantified. Results indicated that the daily average CO2 concentrations were high at commercial (467±35.15ppm) and industrial (464±31.68ppm) sites than at residential site (448±33.45 ppm). The quantified CO2 emissions were also showed high levels at commercial (1190 tons/day) and industrial sites (8886 tons/day) than at residential site (90tons/day). On a diurnal scale, CO2 concentrations were low during afternoons and high during the late evenings and early morning hours at all the three types of land use sites. At the urban residential site, the domestic sector had a strong impact on the day time CO2 concentrations, while soil and plant respiration phenomena had a greater control over the night time CO2 concentrations. Further, the CO2 concentrations were high during the stagnation and stable meteorological conditions than the ventilation and unstable conditions. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.