The formation and fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) during the pyrolysis and fuel-rich combustion of primary tar generated under rapid heating conditions have been studied. Experiments were performed using a quartz two-stage reactor consisting of a fluidized-bed reactor coupled to a tubular-flow reactor. Primary tar was produced in the fluidized-bed reactor by rapid coal pyrolysis at 600 °C. The freshly generated tar was subsequently reacted in the tubular-flow reactor at 1000 °C under varying oxygen concentrations covering the range from pyrolysis to stoichiometric oxidation. PAH species present in the tars recovered from the tubular-flow reactor were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Twenty-seven PAH species, varying from 2-ring to 9-ring structures, were identified, including benzenoid PAH, fluoranthene benzologues and indene benzologues. The majority of PAH species identified from pyrolysis were also identified in the samples collected from oxidation experiments. However, three products, 9-fluorenone, cyclopenta[def]phenanthrene and indeno[1,2,3-cd]fluoranthene, were produced only during oxidizing conditions. The addition of a small amount of oxygen brought about measurable increases in the yields of the indene benzologues and 9-fluorenone, but the yields of all PAH products decreased at high oxygen concentrations, in accordance with their destruction by oxidation. Possible formation and destruction mechanisms of PAH under fuel-rich conditions have been discussed.