Abstract Two cultivars of winter wheat ( Triticum aestivum L.) (Jing 411 and Lovrin 10) were used to investigate arsenate (As) uptake and distribution in plants grown in hydroponic culture and in the soil. Results showed that without As addition, Lovrin 10 had higher biomass than Jing 411 in the soil pot experiment; in the hydroponic experiment Lovrin 10 had similar root biomass to and lower shoot biomass than Jing 411. Increasing P supply from 32 to 161 μM resulted in lower tissue As concentrations, and increasing As supply from 0 to 2000 μM resulted in lower tissue P concentrations. Increasing P supply tended to increase shoot-to-root ratios of As concentrations, and increasing As supply tended to decrease shoot-to-root ratios of As concentrations. Both cultivars invested more in root production under P deficient conditions than under P sufficient conditions. Lovrin 10 invested more biomass production to roots than Jing 411, which might be partly responsible for higher shoot P and As concentrations and higher shoot-to-root ratios of As concentrations. Moreover, Lovrin 10 allocated less As to roots than Jing 411 and the difference disappeared with decreasing P supply.