Effects of vapours of two herbicides on plantlets of fourteen wild higher plant species and two bryophytes were screened in fumigation experiments using foliar injury, chlorophyll fluorescence and growth as response parameters. After vaporisation of the herbicides for 48 h, concentrations in the chambers reached 77 g m−3 in the chlorpropham treatments and 184 ng m−3 in the ethofumesate treatments. Despite the higher concentrations of the volatile chlorpropham (vapour pressure, VP: 1.3 mP), plants showed no foliar injury, but vapours of this herbicide caused leaf crinkling in the agriophyte Agrostemma githago. The less volatile ethofumesate (VP: 0.56 mP) caused foliar injury in all higher species, with lowest no observed effect concentrations (NOECs) of 75 ng m−3. Chlorpropham affected growth only in Agrostemma, while ethofumesate reduced growth in one third of the higher plant species. Chlorophyll fluorescence proved to be a less suitable response parameter compared to foliar injury and growth. No adverse effects were observed in mosses, probably due to the slow growth and hence small doses of herbicides taken up. The extent of foliar injury due to ethofumesate showed a weak positive relationship to relative growth rates and specific leaf area in the tested higher plant species.