The reactivity of iron atoms, clusters, and nanoparticles (nZVI) is of increasing interest owing to their important practical applications, ranging from the steel industry to water remediation technologies. Here, we provide an overview of computational methods and models that can be applied to study nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) reactions and discuss their benefits and limitations. We also report current progress in calculations through recent examples treating the reactivity of nZVI particles. Finally, we consider the potential use of highly accurate methods with favorable scaling (such as quantum Monte Carlo or random phase approximation), which are currently considered too computationally expensive but are expected to become more amenable in the future as computer power increases. © 2014 The Authors International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.