Abstract The estuarine behaviour of the metal load leaching from acid sulphate (AS) soils was studied in a selected river system (the Vörå River), in western Finland. Large amounts of metals were transported with the river and deposited within the estuary, causing highly elevated metal concentrations in both the sediment traps and in the underlying bottom sediments. Among the metals, there was a diverging deposition pattern where Al, Cu, La and U demonstrated a strong association with organic matter and were deposited within approximately 4 km from the river mouth. In contrast, the deposition of Co, Mn, Ni and Zn occurred when pH reached circumneutral conditions further out in the estuary. Yet other metals were not abundantly leached from the AS soils and thus not elevated in the river and estuary (Fe, Ti, Cr, V). Five separate chemical extractions indicated the geochemical speciation of the metals.