Halogen atoms, particularly chlorine atoms, are well known to be highly reactive and to play a central role in the chemistry of the upper atmosphere. A large potential source of these halogens in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) exists in the form of sea salt particles. A variety of laboratory, field and modelling studies strongly suggests that there are heterogeneous reactions of sea salt particles which generate photochemically active halogen species such as Cl in marine areas. In addition, there is increasing evidence for a contribution of bromine atoms to tropospheric chemistry in marine regions at high latitudes. We review here briefly the potential importance of such halogen reactions and evidence for their role in the chemistry of the troposphere. Studies carried out in this laboratory to elucidate, at a molecular level, the mechanisms of reaction of synthetic sea salt and its components with gases of tropospheric interest are reviewed. Initial results obtained using a new aerosol apparatus recently constructed in this laboratory to study the reactions of aerosol particles above and below the deliquescence point of the salts are also discussed. © 1999 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.