Carbon dioxide (CO2) partial reduction to carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen has been conducted in a dielectric barrier discharge reactor (DBD) operating a packed bed configuration and the results are compared with that of no packing condition. The effect of diluent gas is studied to understand the influence on dielectric strength of the plasma gas on CO2 splitting, with the objective of obtaining the best CO selectivity and high energy efficiency. Typical results indicated that among N2, He and Ar gases, Ar showed the best decomposition efficiency. Glass beads packing has a strong influence on the performance, probably due to the enhanced field strength due to dielectric nature of the packed material. In a similar manner, Ar mole ratio in the gas mixture also played a significant role, where the maximum CO2 conversion of 19.5% was obtained with packed DBD at CO2:Ar ratio 1:2. The best CO yield (16.8%) was also obtained under the same conditions. The highest energy efficiency was found to be 0.945 mmol/kJ. The activated species formed inside the CO2 plasma were identified by optical emission spectroscopy. © 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.