A review with 33 refs. on the kinetics and mechanisms of hydrocarbon oxidn. in the atm. The atm. lifetimes of hydrocarbons are detd. by their reactivity towards OH as well as by the atm. concn. of OH. The are compd.-specific and vary from several hours to several years. Hydrocarbon oxidn. chains couple with other trace gases (Ox, HOx, and NOx). For conditions of the av. continental atm., an increase of the oxidative potential (HOx, Ox) is predicted through hydrocarbon oxidn.