An a priori model of metal complexation by natural organic matter (NOM) has previously been shown to predict experimental data at pH 7.0 and 0.1 M ionic strength (Cabaniss, S. E. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2009). Unlike macroscopic models based only on stoichiometry and thermodynamics, this a priori model also predicts the ligand groups and properties of complexed (occupied) molecules. Ligand molecules with strong binding sites form complexes at low metal concentrations and have average properties (molecular weight, charge, aromaticity) which can differ significantly from the average properties of bulk NOM. Cu(II), Ni(II) and Pb(II) preferentially bind to strong amine-containing sites which are often located on small (MW < 1000), lower-aromaticity molecules. Cd(II) and Zn(II) show generally weaker binding, although they also prefer amine-containing sites to pure carboxylates and bind to smaller, less aromatic molecules. Ca(II) shows no real preference for amine over carboxylate ligand groups, preferentially binding to larger and more negatively charged molecules. Al(III) has a unique preference for phenol-containing sites and larger, more aromatic molecules. While some predictions of this model are consistent with a variety of experimental data from the literature, others await validation by molecular-level analysis.