Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) dissolve in the oceans, but the total quantity and spatial distribution in the oceans was not previously known. The first estimate of the global oceanic CFC-11 uptake using field measurements is calculated from WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment) CFC-11 concentrations. Here we find the total oceanic uptake of 5.5 (±1.2) × 108 moles was about 1% of total emissions through 1994. Eighty-two percent of the CFC-11 inventory is in the upper 1000 meters. The CFC inventory distribution implies that the dominant physical air-sea exchange of gases on decadal time scales occurs due to a combination of high gas solubility in cold high latitude waters and effectiveness of the wind-driven circulation. The global inventory provides a benchmark for models simulating climate change.