Application of organic chemicals to a newly irrigated sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) area located in the semiarid western part of Reunion Island has prompted local regulatory agencies to determine their potential to contaminate ground water resources. For that purpose, simple indices known as the ground water ubiquity score (Gustafson index, GUS), the retardation factor (RF), the attenuation factor (AF), and the log-transformed attenuation factor (AFT) were employed to assess the potential leaching of five herbicides in two soil types. The herbicides were alachlor [2-chloro-2′,6′-diethyl-N-(methoxy-methy) acetanilide], atrazine [2-chloro-4-(ethylamino)-6-(isopropylamino)-1,3,5-triazine], diuron [3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea], 2,4-D [(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) acetic-acid], and triclopyr [((3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridyl)oxy) acetic-acid]. The soil types were Vertic (BV) and Andepts (BA) Inceptisols, which are present throughout the Saint-Gilles study area on Reunion Island. To calculate the indices, herbicide sorption (K
oc) and dissipation (half-life, DT50) properties were determined from controlled batch experiments. Water fluxes below the root zone were estimated by a capacity-based model driven by a rainfall frequency analysis performed on a 13-yr data series. The results show a lower risk of herbicide leaching than in temperate regions due to the tropical conditions of the study area. Higher temperatures and the presence of highly adsorbent soils may explain smaller DT50 and higher K
oc values than those reported in literature concerning temperate environments. Based on the RF values, only 2,4-D and triclopyr appear mobile in the BV soil, with all the other herbicides being classified from moderately to very immobile in both soils. The AFT values indicate that the potential leaching of the five herbicides can be considered as unlikely, except during the cyclonic period (about 40 d/yr) when there is a 2.5% probability of recharge rates equal to or higher than 50 mm/d. In that case, atrazine in both soils, 2,4-D and triclopyr in the BV soil, and diuron and alachlor in the BA soil present a high risk of potential contamination of ground water resources.