Abstract In a microbial bioelectrochemical system (BES) living microorganisms catalyze the anodic oxidation of organic matter at a low anode potential. We used a BES with a biological anode to power the cathodic recovery of Cu, Pb, Cd, and Zn from a simulated municipal solid waste incineration ash leachate. By varying the control of the BES, the four metals could sequentially be recovered from a mixed solution by reduction on a titanium cathode. First, the cell voltage was controlled at zero, which allowed recovery of Cu from the solution without an electrical energy input. Second, the cathode potential was controlled at −0.51V to recover Pb, which required an applied voltage of about 0.34V. Third, the cathode potential was controlled at −0.66V to recover Cd, which required an applied voltage of 0.51V. Finally, Zn was the only metal remaining in solution and was recovered by controlling the anode at +0.2V to maximize the generated current. The study is the first to demonstrate that a BES can be used for cathodic recovery of metals from a mixed solution, which potentially could be used not only for ash leachates but also for e.g. metallurgical wastewaters and landfill leachates.