Abstract The uptake of arsenate (As(V)) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) by aquatic macrophyte Spirodela polyrhiza L. was investigated to determine the influence of arsenic interaction with PO 4 3− and Fe ions. Plants were grown hydroponically on standard Murashige and Skoog (MS) culture solutions. Arsenic concentrations in Fe-oxide (Fe-plaque) on plant surfaces were determined by citrate–bicarbonate–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (CBE) technique. S. polyrhiza L. accumulated 51-fold arsenic from arsenate solution compared to that from DMAA solution with initial concentrations of 4.0 and 0.02 μM of arsenic and phosphate, respectively. The arsenate uptake was negatively ( p < 0.001) correlated with phosphate uptake and positively ( p < 0.05) correlated with iron uptake. About 56% of the total arsenic was accumulated into the plant tissues while 44% was adsorbed on Fe-plaque (CBE-extract), when the plants were grown on arsenate solution. The DMAA uptake into the plant was neither affected by the phosphate concentrations nor correlated ( p > 0.05) with iron accumulation. The results suggest that adsorption of arsenate on Fe-plaque of the surface of S. polyrhiza L. contributes to the arsenic uptake significantly. Thus, arsenate uptake in S. polyrhiza L. occurred through the phosphate uptake pathway and by physico-chemical adsorption on Fe-plaques of plant surfaces as well. The S. polyrhiza L. uses different mechanisms for DMAA uptake.