The MVZ herp collection contains over 289,000 catalogued specimens. Most specimens are fluid-preserved, but the collection also contains skeletal preparations, sets of amphibian eggs and larvae, and several thousand specimens that have been cleared and stained. Other special collections include pineal organs, 800 sectioned heads, a series of dried frog skins from California and Argentina, and stomach contents that have been removed from more than 3,000 predatory reptiles.

The collection contains records from every continent, and is especially strong in holdings from western North America, Latin America, and eastern and central Asia. Taxonomically, the collection contains representatives of every amphibian and reptile Order. Among amphibians, approximately 87% of families and 53% of genera are represented. Among reptiles, about 90% of families and 65% of genera are represented.

The collections are commonly used for systematics, teaching, ecological research, and reproductive studies.  Other uses include comparative anatomy, locomotion, and zooarchaeology.