The properties of chlorine atoms in crystalline GaAs, such as stable configurations, migration paths, charge-state effects, and interaction with dopant atoms are theoretically investigated. The calculations are based on the local density functional theory using first-principles pseudopotentials in a supercell geometry. We determine the stable charge state of an isolated Cl atom as a function of the Fermi energy. When the Fermi level is situated at the top of the valence band of GaAs, the Cl atom occupies preferentially the bond-center site of a Ga-As bond in the positive charge state. The Cl atom diffuses through the GaAs crystal via a path in the region of high electron density, with a fairly large energy barrier. When the Fermi level is at the bottom of the conduction band, the lowest-energy configuration of the Cl atom is the tetrahedral interstitial site in the negative charge state and the bond center site is very slightly higher in energy. In Si-doped GaAs, the C1 atom occupies the tetrahedral interstitial site with the substitutional Si donor atom as a nearest neighbor, forming a neutral Cl-Si complex. The Cl-Si complex is weak and easily dissociates into the isolated C1 and Si atoms in GaAs. A comparison will be made between the behavior of Cl and F atoms in GaAs.