This article is a review of the current state of knowledge regarding the formation and biological/environmental significance of bound pesticide residues in soils. We begin by defining various terms used in our discussions and identifying the types/classes of pesticides which may be added to soil and interact with it. We then consider various soil properties and aspects of land management which will influence the nature and degree of the soil-pesticide association and discuss the possible physical and chemical binding mechanisms. We then move on to consider the role of microorganisms and other forms of soil biota in bound residue formation and the bioavailability of soil-borne pesticide residues. The review ends with a consideration of the significance of bound pesticide residues. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.