An experimental study on pre-breakdown light emission in low-pressure argon gas was performed. In a pulsed discharge, pre-breakdown phenomena were observed for repetition rates between 100 and 2000 Hz and pulse duration of 100 ¿s. These phenomena were studied with time-resolved emission imaging using an intensified charge coupled device camera. The origin of the pre-breakdown emission was identified as diffusion of volume charges left over from previous discharges. These charges were accelerated towards the anode in small electron avalanches causing excitation of argon atoms. Different spatial distributions of the pre-breakdown light emission for different times between discharges were measured and the effects of the pre-breakdown phenomena on the main breakdown phase were studied using a double voltage pulse. The observed effects were attributed to the distribution of volume charges, left over from previous discharges, in the discharge gap during the pre-breakdown phase.