The heterogeneous hydrolysis of dinitrogen pentoxide (N2O5) is important to understanding the formation of particulate nitrate (pNO3–). Measurements of N2O5 in the surface layer taken at an urban site in Beijing are presented here. N2O5 was observed with large day-to-day variability. High N2O5 concentrations were determined during pollution episodes with the co-presence of large aerosol loads. The maximum value was 1.3 ppbv (5 s average), associated with an air mass characterized by a high level of O3. N2O5 uptake coefficients were estimated to be in the range of 0.025–0.072 using the steady-state lifetime method. As a consequence, the nocturnal pNO3– formation potential by N2O5 heterogeneous uptake was calculated to be 24–85 μg m–3 per night and, on average, 57 μg m–3 during days with pollution. This was comparable to or even higher than that formed by the partitioning of HNO3. The results highlight that N2O5 heterogeneous hydrolysis is vital in pNO3– formation in Beijing.