Water-soluble organic compounds are important constituents of atmospheric aerosols and have been recognized as unique fingerprints to identify atmospheric processes. Fine aerosol samples (PM2.5) were collected at Ambikapur (23.1°N and 83.2°E) in eastern central India from March to June 2017. The samples were analyzed for water-soluble dicarboxylic acids (C2–C12), glyoxylic acid (ωC2), glyoxal (Gly), methylglyoxal (MeGly), organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC) and water-soluble OC (WSOC). Oxalic acid (C2) was detected as the most abundant species, followed by succinic (C4) and malonic (C3) acids. Temporal variation in concentrations of C2 diacid and related compounds was pronounced from early to late April when biomass burning (BB) was dominant in eastern central India. Strong positive correlations of C2 diacid and related compounds with levoglucosan (r = 0.83–0.99) further demonstrate that organic aerosols (OAs) were affected by BB in eastern central India. Strong positive correlations of C2 with saturated diacids (C3–C9: r = 0.78–0.97), ωC2 (r = 0.98), Gly (r = 0.96) and MeGly (r = 0.84) suggest that their sources and formation processes were similar and oxalic acid might be produced via the photochemical degradation of precursor compounds. The relatively high ratios of WSOC to OC (avg. 0.69) and C3 to C4 diacid (avg. 0.95) suggest that water-soluble OAs were photochemically processed during the campaign. The total water-soluble organic compounds detected in Ambikapur PM2.5 samples accounted for an average of 1.9% (1.1–3.1%) of OC. Our results demonstrate that BB and photochemical processing caused high levels of water-soluble organic compounds over eastern central India.