Quantum cascade laser absorption spectroscopy was used to measure the absolute concentration of acetylene in situ during the nanoparticle growth in Ar + C2H2 RF plasmas. It is demonstrated that the nanoparticle growth exhibits a periodical behavior, with the growth cycle period strongly dependent on the initial acetylene concentration in the chamber. Being 300 s at 7.5% of acetylene in the gas mixture, the growth cycle period decreases with the acetylene concentration increasing; the growth eventually disappears when the acetylene concentration exceeds 32%. During the nanoparticle growth, the acetylene concentration is small and does not exceed 4.2% at radio frequency (RF) power of 4 W, and 0.5% at RF power of 20 W. An injection of a single acetylene pulse into the discharge also results in the nanoparticle nucleation and growth. The absorption spectroscopy technique was found to be very effective for the time-resolved measurement of the hydrocarbon content in nanoparticle-generating plasmas.