Pyruvic acid in the atmosphere is found in both the gas and aqueous phases, and its behavior gives insight into that of other alpha-keto acids. Photolysis is a significant degradation pathway for this molecule in the environment, and in aqueous solution the major photoproducts are higher-molecular-weight compounds that may contribute to secondary organic aerosol mass. The kinetics of the aqueous-phase photolysis of pyruvic acid under aerobic and anaerobic conditions was investigated in order to calculate the first-order rate constant, J(aq), in solution. Analysis of the exponential decay of pyruvic acid was performed by monitoring both pyruvic acid and its photolytic products over the course of the reaction by H-1 NMR spectroscopy. Detection of major and minor products in the 0.1, 0.05, and 0.02 M pyruvic acid photolyses clearly demonstrates that the primary reaction pathways are highly dependent on the initial pyruvic acid concentration and the presence of dissolved oxygen. The J(aq) values were calculated with approximations based on the dominant pathways for limiting cases of the mechanism. Finally, a model study using the calculated rate constants demonstrates the importance of aqueous-phase photolysis as a sink for pyruvic acid in the atmosphere, compared with gas-phase photolysis and OH oxidation.