Air entrainment in the first 30 mm of a dc Ar/ H2 plasma jet has been studied by emission spectroscopy. The tests were conducted using 6, 7 and 10-mm diameter nozzles and plasma arc currents of 400 and 600 A. Oxygen, nitrogen, and argon spectral lines were recorded 20 and 30 mm downstream of the nozzle exit during spraying, and the corresponding atom density ratios were estimated based on plasma population temperature and volumetric emission coefficients. The results indicate that at 20 mm air entrainment is mainly due to piston flow for the 10-mm nozzle and both piston flow and engulfment for the 7-mm nozzle. At 30 mm, the engulfment process is found to have 4 to 6 times the impact that it does at 20 mm and is directly linked to the jet velocity. At both locations, the atom density ratios differ from that observed in air due to the time required to dissociate N2.