We present a new 3-dimensional 1° × 1° gridded data set for the annual mean seawater oxygen isotope ratio (δ18O) to use in oceanographic and paleoceanographic applications. It is constructed from a large set of observations made over the last 50 years combined with estimates from regional δ18O to salinity relationships in areas of sparse data. We use ocean fronts and water mass tracer concentrations to help define distinct water masses over which consistent local relationships are valid. The resulting data set compares well to the GEOSECS data (where available); however, in certain regions, particularly where sea ice is present, significant seasonality may bias the results. As an example application of this data set, we use the resulting surface δ18O as a boundary condition for isotope-enabled GISS ModelE to yield a more realistic comparison to the isotopic composition of precipitation data, thus quantifying the ‘source effect’ of δ18O on the isotopic composition of precipitation.