Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) is currently widely used in commercial diesel engines to provide an effective solution in reducing the levels of nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions. However, this currently comes at the expense of an exponential increase in particulate matter (PM) emissions resulting directly from the dilution effect (i.e. reduction in oxygen availability), as well as a further penalty arising from the recirculation of the exhaust emissions such as soot and hydrocarbons. In our earlier work it was observed that filtered EGR (FEGR) was able to play a significant role in controlling the soot recirculation penalty and thus improve the overall NOX/soot trade-off. In order to further our understanding of the effect of recirculated exhaust gases and in particular recirculated soot and hydrocarbon (HC), comparisons were made between standard EGR, FEGR and pure nitrogen (N2), a direct cleaner replacement of the exhaust gas. When implementing FEGR, a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and diesel particulate filter (DPF) were introduced into the exhaust to not only filter the soot particulates but reduce the recirculation of HC which can play a role in particulate surface growth. It was observed that the recirculated HC species and soot particles (especially at high load and EGR ratios) play a role in promoting the production and growth of further particles within the combustion chamber. Similarly, by comparing at the same O2 intake concentration as that of FEGR and introducing N2 as the EGR replacement gas, it was possible to correlate the increase in engine-out mass of soot with EGR to the recirculation of soot particles, HC species as well as the presence of H2O and CO2.