The goal of this special issue is to introduce the field of computational synthetic biology to engineers and computer scientists. The first article gives an introduction to the key biological principles and experimental techniques that support synthetic biology, and it draws analogies with the computing field. This issue also includes five original research articles in computational synthetic biology. The first research article discusses how standards can be used to modularize the design process for genetic circuits. The next two articles introduce new abstraction techniques to improve the efficiency of analysis of genetic circuit models. The last two articles introduce new design techniques that help decouple design from construction. We hope this sampling from the field will help to motivate others to join this exciting and rich area of research.