Laboratory studies were conducted to determine the influence of degradation and sorption processes on the dissipation of alachlor in one Colorado soil (Kim clay loam) and three Minnesota soils (Port Byron silt loam, Webster silty clay loam, and Estherville sandy loam) as a function of soil depth. Persistence and movement of alachlor in an irrigated corn production system also were determined on the Kim soil. Laboratory degradation data fit first-order kinetics, and rate constants ranged from 0.0094 to 0.0251 d-1 and varied with soil type and depth. For instance, in 60- to 75-cm-depth Kim soil, alachlor degraded at a slower rate (k = 0.011 d-1) than in surface soil samples (k = 0.022 d-1). Alachlor sorption to the four soils was moderate (Kf = 0.7 to 7.4; Kf,oc = 71 to 470) and concentration dependent (1/n < 1.0). Significant hysteretic desorption of alachlor from soils also was observed (1/n desorption < 1/n sorption). The combined effect of degradation and sorption processes has been used to classify a chemical's potential to leach to groundwater. Based on Kf,oc and dissipation half-life, alachlor would be classified as a “leacher” in Kim, Port Byron, and Estherville soils and classified as transitional between “leacher” and “nonleacher” in the Webster soil. The dissipation first-order rate constant (k) of alachlor in Kim soil in the field was 0.036 α 0.012 d-1. Dissipation was apparently not due to leaching since bromide applied at the same time remained in the top 15 cm during the first 28 d. It appears that laboratory-derived leaching indices may overestimate actual leaching and should be used with caution for predictive or regulatory purposes.