The Beijing Climate Center Earth System Model version 1 (BCC-ESM1) is the first version of a fully coupled Earth system model with interactive atmospheric chemistry and aerosols developed by the Beijing Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration. Major aerosol species (including sulfate, organic carbon, black carbon, dust, and sea salt) and greenhouse gases are interactively simulated with a whole panoply of processes controlling emission, transport, gas-phase chemical reactions, secondary aerosol formation, gravitational settling, dry deposition, and wet scavenging by clouds and precipitation. Effects of aerosols on radiation, cloud, and precipitation are fully treated. The performance of BCC-ESM1 in simulating aerosols and their optical properties is comprehensively evaluated as required by the Aerosol Chemistry Model Intercomparison Project (AerChemMIP), covering the preindustrial mean state and time evolution from 1850 to 2014. The simulated aerosols from BCC-ESM1 are quite coherent with Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5)-recommended data, in situ measurements from surface networks (such as IMPROVE in the US and EMEP in Europe), and aircraft observations. A comparison of modeled aerosol optical depth (AOD) at 550 nm with satellite observations retrieved from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and surface AOD observations from the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) shows reasonable agreement between simulated and observed AOD. However, BCC-ESM1 shows weaker upward transport of aerosols from the surface to the middle and upper troposphere, likely reflecting the deficiency of representing deep convective transport of chemical species in BCC-ESM1. With an overall good agreement between BCC-ESM1 simulated and observed aerosol properties, it demonstrates a success of the implementation of interactive aerosol and atmospheric chemistry in BCC-ESM1.