Chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS) enables online, rapid, in situ detection and quantification of hydroxyacetone and glycolaldehyde. Two different CIMS approaches are demonstrated employing the strengths of single quadrupole mass spectrometry and triple quadrupole (tandem) mass spectrometry. Both methods are generally capable of the measurement of hydroxyacetone, an analyte with known but minimal isobaric interferences. Tandem mass spectrometry provides direct separation of the isobaric compounds glycolaldehyde and acetic acid using distinct, collision-induced dissociation daughter ions. The single quadrupole CIMS measurement of glycolaldehyde was demonstrated during the ARCTAS-CARB (Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites - California Air Resources Board) 2008 campaign, while triple quadrupole CIMS measurements of glycolaldehyde and hydroxyacetone were demonstrated during the BEARPEX (Biosphere Effects on Aerosols and Photochemistry Experiment) 2009 campaign. Enhancement ratios of glycolaldehyde in ambient biomass-burning plumes are reported for the ARCTAS-CARB campaign. BEARPEX observations are compared to simple photochemical box model predictions of biogenic volatile organic compound oxidation at the site.