Time-resolved optical emission spectroscopy (OES) is used to analyze a mesh-initiated air breakdown plasma induced by a transverse excitation atmospheric CO2 pulsed laser (λ=10.591 μm, 64 ns (full width at half maximum), 70–160 J/cm2). Emission from excited N, O, C, H, and Ar; ionic fragment N+, O+, N2+, O2+, C+, and molecular band systems of N2+(B 2Σu+-X 2Σg+; D 2Πg-A 2Πu), N2(C 3Πu-B 3Πg), and OH(A 2Σ+-X 2Π) is observed. Plasma characteristics are examined in detail on the emission lines of N+, O+, and C by time-resolved OES technique. The results show a faster decay of continuum and ionic spectral species than of neutral atomic and molecular ones. The velocity and kinetic energy distributions for the different species were obtained from time-of-flight measurements. Excitation temperature and electron density in the laser-induced plas- - ma were estimated from the analysis of spectral data at various times from the laser pulse incidence. Temporal evolution of electron density has been used for the estimation of the three-body recombination rate constant.