Abstract Arsenic (As) accumulation in food crops such as rice is of major concern. To investigate whether phytoremediation can reduce As uptake by rice, the As hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata was grown in five contaminated paddy soils in a pot experiment. Over a 9-month period P. vittata removed 3.5–11.4% of the total soil As, and decreased phosphate-extractable As and soil pore water As by 11–38% and 18–77%, respectively. Rice grown following P. vittata had significantly lower As concentrations in straw and grain, being 17–82% and 22–58% of those in the control, respectively. Phytoremediation also resulted in significant changes in As speciation in rice grain by greatly decreasing the concentration of dimethylarsinic acid (DMA). In two soils the concentration of inorganic As in rice grain was decreased by 50–58%. The results demonstrate an effective stripping of bioavailable As from contaminated paddy soils thus reducing As uptake by rice.