Continuous measurements of particle number (PN), particle mass (PM(10)) and gaseous copollutants (NO(x), CO and O3) were obtained at eight sites (urban, suburban and remote) in Southern California during years 2002 and 2003 in support of University of Southern California Children's Health Study. We report the spatial and temporal variation of PNs and size distributions within these sites. Higher average total PN concentrations are found in winter (November to February), compared to summer (July to September) and spring (March to June) in all urban sites. Contribution of local vehicular emissions is most evident in cooler months, whereas effects of long-range transport of particles are enhanced during warmer periods. The particle size profile is most represented by a combination of the spatial effects, for example, sources, atmospheric processes and meteorological conditions prevalent at each location. Afternoon periods in the warmer months are characterized by elevated number concentrations that either coincide or follow a peak in ozone concentrations, suggesting the formation of new particles by photochemistry. Results show no meaningful correlation between PN and mass, indicating that mass based standards may not be effective in controlling ultrafine particles. The study of the impact of the Union worker's strike at port of Long Beach in October 2002 revealed statistically significant increase in PN concentrations in the 60-200 nm range (P<0.001), which are indicative of contributions of emissions from the idling ships at the port.