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The increase in atmospheric CO2 levels during the last deglaciation was comparable in magnitude to the recent historical increase. However, global CO2 budgets for these changes reflect fundamental differences in rates and in sources and sinks. The modern oceans are a rapid net CO2 sink, whereas the oceans were a gradual source during the deglaciation. Unidentified terrestrial CO2 sinks are important uncertainties in both the deglacial and recent CO2 budgets. The deglacial CO2 budget represents a complexity of long-term dynamic behavior that is not adequately addressed by current models used to forecast future atmospheric CO2 levels.