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Emissions from traditional cooking practices in low- and middle-income countries have detrimental health and climate effects; cleaner-burning cookstoves may provide “cobenefits”. Here we assess this potential via in-home measurements of fuel-use and emissions and real-time optical properties of pollutants from traditional and alternative cookstoves in rural Malawi. Alternative cookstove models were distributed by existing initiatives and include a low-cost ceramic model, two forced-draft cookstoves (FDCS; Philips HD4012LS and ACE-1), and three institutional cookstoves. Among household cookstoves, emission factors (EF; g (kg wood)−1 ) were lowest for the Philips, with statistically significant reductions relative to baseline of 45% and 47% for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), respectively. The Philips was the only cookstove tested that showed significant reductions in elemental carbon (EC) emission rate. Estimated health and climate cobenefits of alternative cookstoves were smaller than predicted from laboratory tests due to the effects of real-world conditions including fuel variability and nonideal operation. For example, estimated daily PM intake and field-measurement-based global warming commitment (GWC) for the Philips FDCS were a factor of 8.6 and 2.8 times higher, respectively, than those based on lab measurements. In-field measurements provide an assessment of alternative cookstoves under real-world conditions and as such likely provide more realistic estimates of their potential health and climate benefits than laboratory tests.