Two poly(hydroxo aluminum) intercalated Wyoming bentonites were prepared starting from two different aluminum pillaring solutions. The sorption mechanism of Laurentian fulvic acid (FA) onto these poly(hydroxo aluminum) intercalated bentonites was investigated at different pH values and at different ionic strengths (NaCl or CaCl2). Three mechanisms contribute to the FA adsorption, depending on the pH and the nature (NaCl or CaCl2) and ionic strength of the background electrolyte. In the presence of NaCl the FA sorption onto poly(hydroxo aluminum) intercalated bentonites can be mainly ascribed to ligand exchange between the amphoteric poly(hydroxo aluminum) hydroxyl groups and the deprotonated carboxylic groups of the FA. The FA adsorption due to ligand exchange reactions decreases with increasing pH. In presence of Ca2+ ions the FA adsorption is enhanced, compared to the presence of Na+, due to Ca2+ bridging between negatively charged groups on the FA molecules and the poly(hydroxo aluminum) intercalated bentonite. The FA adsorption due to Ca2+ bridging increases with increasing pH. A third mechanism is enhanced FA adsorption ascribed to FA-Ca-FA bridging and was detected from the FA adsorption in presence of Ca2+ at the zero point of charge of the poly(hydroxo aluminum) bentonite (pH 5). (C) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.