During the fourth Fire Lab at Missoula Experiment (FLAME-4, October–November 2012) a large variety of regionally and globally significant biomass fuels was burned at the US Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana. The particle emissions were characterized by an extensive suite of instrumentation that measured aerosol chemistry, size distribution, optical properties, and cloud-nucleating properties. The trace gas measurements included high-resolution mass spectrometry, one- and two-dimensional gas chromatography, and open-path Fourier transform infrared (OP-FTIR) spectroscopy. This paper summarizes the overall experimental design for FLAME-4 – including the fuel properties, the nature of the burn simulations, and the instrumentation employed – and then focuses on the OP-FTIR results. The OP-FTIR was used to measure the initial emissions of 20 trace gases: CO2, CO, CH4, C2H2, C2H4, C3H6, HCHO, HCOOH, CH3OH, CH3COOH, glycolaldehyde, furan, H2O, NO, NO2, HONO, NH3, HCN, HCl, and SO2. These species include most of the major trace gases emitted by biomass burning, and for several of these compounds, this is the first time their emissions are reported for important fuel types. The main fire types included African grasses, Asian rice straw, cooking fires (open (three-stone), rocket, and gasifier stoves), Indonesian and extratropical peat, temperate and boreal coniferous canopy fuels, US crop residue, shredded tires, and trash. Comparisons of the OP-FTIR emission factors (EFs) and emission ratios (ERs) to field measurements of biomass burning verify that the large body of FLAME-4 results can be used to enhance the understanding of global biomass burning and its representation in atmospheric chemistry models.