Abstract Radiative forcing values have been calculated for 11 halogenated compounds which are in current use or which have been suggested as possible replacements for the chlorofluorocarbons. Absorption cross-sections measured over a range of atmospheric temperature and pressure conditions as part of a multi-laboratory programme have been used together with a narrow band radiative transfer model. We provide a “best estimate” radiative forcing taking into account the likely vertical profile of the gas in each case. The Global Warming Potential over a variety of time horizons has also been calculated where the lifetime is available. We present the first such information for 1,2-dichloroethane. For chloroform our radiative forcing is 5 times higher than the value used in previous assessments, possibly because these ignored the effect of absorption outside the 800–1200 cm −1 “window”. For several of the other compounds considered here, our forcing is between 10 and 30% lower than previous assessments. The perfluorocarbons have been found to have large global warming potentials, many times that of CFC-11, due to both strong absorption and long lifetimes. The importance of absorption features at wavenumbers below 800 cm −1 and the effect of temperature variations in absorption cross-section on the radiative forcing are also investigated.