Emissions and in-cylinder pressure traces are used to compare the relative importance of soot formation and soot oxidation in a heavy-duty diesel engine. The equivalence ratio at the lift-off length is estimated with an empirical correlation and an idealized model of diesel spray. No correlation is found between the equivalence ratio at lift-off and the soot emissions. This confirms that trends in soot emissions cannot be directly understood by the soot formation process. The coupling between soot emission levels and late heat release after end of injection is also studied. A regression model describing soot emissions as function of global engine parameters influencing soot oxidation is proposed. Overall, the results of this analysis indicate that soot emissions can be understood in terms of the efficiency of the oxidation process.