Green algae (Chlorophyta) are an important group of microalgae whose diversity and ecological importance in marine systems has been little studied. In this review, we first present an overview of Chlorophyta taxonomy and detail the most important groups from the marine environment. Then, using public 18S rRNA Chlorophyta sequences from culture and natural samples retrieved from the annotated Protist Ribosomal Reference (PR²) database, we illustrate the distribution of different green algal lineages in the oceans. The largest group of sequences belongs to the class Mamiellophyceae and in particular to the three genera Micromonas, Bathycoccus and Ostreococcus. These sequences originate mostly from coastal regions. Other groups with a large number of sequences include the Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Chlorodendrophyceae and Pyramimonadales. Some groups, such as the undescribed prasinophytes clades VII and IX, are mostly composed of environmental sequences. The 18S rRNA sequence database we assembled and validated should be useful for the analysis of metabarcode datasets acquired using next generation sequencing.