A tunable diode laser absorption spectrometer (TDLAS) was operated on the NASA DC-8 aircraft during the summer INTEX-NA study to acquire ambient formaldehyde (CH20) measurements over North America and the North Atlantic Ocean from 0.2 km to - 12.5 kin altitude spanning 17 science flights. Measurements of CH20 in the boundary layer and upper troposphere over the southeastern United States were anomalously low compared to studies in other years, and this was attributed to the record low temperatures over this region during the summer of 2004. Formaldehyde is primarily formed over the southeast from isoprene, and isoprene emissions are strongly temperature-dependent. Despite this effect, the median upper tropospheric (UT) CH2O mixing ratio of 159 pptv from the TDLAS over continental North America is about a factor of 4 times higher than the median UT value of 40 pptv observed over remote regions during TRACE-P. These observations together with the higher variability observed in this study all point to the fact that continental CH2O levels in the upper troposphere were significantly perturbed during the summer of 2004 relative to more typical background levels in the upper troposphere over more remote regions. The TDLAS measurements discussed in this paper are employed together with box model results in the companion paper by Fried et al. to further examine enhanced CH2O distributions in the upper troposphere due to convection. Measurements of CH2O on the DC-8 were also acquired by a coil enzyme fluorometric system and compared with measurements from the TDLAS system.