A column leaching study was conducted in a greenhouse to determine the movement of atrazine and alachlor through soil as affected by alfalfa roots in three stages of decay. Alfalfa was grown in soil columns for 6 months and then killed with glyphosate. The 14C-atrazine and 14C-alachlor were applied to soil columns with bromide following 2, 13, or 26 weeks of root decomposition. Most of the herbicide remained in the top 9 cm of soil. However, atrazine and alachlor soil distribution profiles indicated greater preferential movement in columns with roots than in columns without roots. Higher levels of atrazine and alachlor were bound to soil at lower depths in the presence of roots than without roots. Adsorption of atrazine and alachlor on soil with and without alfalfa roots was not significantly different as determined by Freundlich adsorption isotherms. Degradation rates for atrazine and alachlor were not substantially different between soil with and without roots. Although only small amounts of the applied herbicide leached through the columns, preferential flow of herbicides through root-mediated soil macropores and cracks could be a mechanism of herbicide transport through soil under appropriate conditions.