In situ stratospheric aerosol measurements, from University of Wyoming optical particle counters (OPCs), are compared with Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment (SAGE) II (versions 6.2 and 7.0) and Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) satellite measurements to investigate differences between SAGE II/HALOE-measured extinction and derived surface area and OPC-derived extinction and surface area. Coincident OPC and SAGE II measurements are compared for a volcanic (1991–1996) and nonvolcanic (1997–2005) period. OPC calculated extinctions agree with SAGE II measurements, within instrumental uncertainty, during the volcanic period, but have been a factor of 2 low during the nonvolcanic period. Three systematic errors associated with the OPC measurements, anisokineticity, inlet particle evaporation, and counting efficiency, were investigated. An overestimation of the OPC counting efficiency is found to be the major source of systematic error. With this correction OPC calculated extinction increases by 15–30% (30–50%) for the volcanic (nonvolcanic) measurements. These changes significantly improve the comparison with SAGE II and HALOE extinctions in the nonvolcanic cases but slightly degrade the agreement in the volcanic period. These corrections have impacts on OPC-derived surface area density, exacerbating the poor agreement between OPC and SAGE II (version 6.2) surface areas. This disparity is reconciled with SAGE II version 7.0 surface areas. For both the volcanic and nonvolcanic cases these changes in OPC counting efficiency and in the operational SAGE II surface area algorithm leave the derived surface areas from both platforms in significantly better agreement and within the ± 40% precision of the OPC moment calculations.