Non-volatile memories will play a decisive role in the next generation of digital technology. Flash memories are currently the key player in the field, yet they fail to meet the commercial demands of scalability and endurance. Resistive memory devices, and in particular memories based on low-cost, solution-processable and chemically tunable organic materials, are promising alternatives explored by the industry. However, to date, they have been lacking the performance and mechanistic understanding required for commercial translation. Here we report a resistive memory device based on a spin-coated active layer of a transition-metal complex, which shows high reproducibility (~350 devices), fast switching (≤30 ns), excellent endurance (~1012 cycles), stability (>106 s) and scalability (down to ~60 nm2). In situ Raman and ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy alongside spectroelectrochemistry and quantum chemical calculations demonstrate that the redox state of the ligands determines the switching states of the device whereas the counterions control the hysteresis. This insight may accelerate the technological deployment of organic resistive memories.