© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2015. Herbicides are an essential tool not only in weed management, but also in conservation tillage approaches to cropping. The first commercial herbicides were released in the 1940s and hundreds more since then, although genetic resistance to them is an issue. Here, we review the experimental and estimated physicochemical properties of 334 successful herbicidal compounds and make available a dynamic electronic database containing detailed analyses of the main chemical properties for herbicides and which adopts the Simplified Molecular-Input Line-Entry System (SMILES) for describing the structure of chemical molecules. This fully available resource allows for the rapid comparison of potential new herbicidal compounds to the chemical properties of known herbicides.