Metal-rich soils, especially heavy metal-polluted soils and ultramafic soils, are generally toxic to non-adapted plants and microorganisms. The role of mycorrhizal fungi in the metal tolerance of adapted plant species has become clear in the last decade. This review aims to synthesize the findings of representative studies of the effects of mycorrhizas on the alleviation of heavy metal toxicity on plants and on the absorption/accumulation of heavy metals in their roots and shoots. The adaptation to heavy metals by mycorrhizal symbionts is associated with their efficiency in metal-rich soils. More than 80 % of the studies have indicated a positive role of mycorrhizal fungi in the adaptation of plants to heavy metals in these soils, but the relationships between plant tolerance to heavy metals and the absorption of metals are complex and depend on a range of biological, physical and chemical factors.