The effect of aspartic acid on the adsorption of Pb(II), Cu(II), Zn(II), Co(II), and Mn(II) on kaolinite at 25 degrees C in the presence of 5 mM KNO3 was investigated by means of potentiometric titrations and adsorption measurements over a range of pH and concentration. Data were modeled by extended constant capacitance models. Aspartic acid slightly enhanced the adsorption of Pb(II), Zn(II), and Co(II) at low pH, but inhibited the adsorption of all the metal ions at higher pH. Adsorption of Cu(II) and Co(II) was inhibited strongly. Because aspartic acid is adsorbed only weakly by kaolinite, inhibition of metal ion adsorption depends on the ability of aspartic acid to form complexes with the various metal ions together with the adsorption characteristics of these complexes. In particular suppression of adsorption at high pH arises from competition between surface sites and dissolved aspartate ions for the available metal ions. Cu(II) and Co(II) form complexes with aspartic acid more strongly than the other metals. As these complexes do not adsorb, Cu(II) and Co(II) suffer greater suppression from aspartic acid than the other metals. There was no evidence of adsorption of aspartic acid complexes to the permanently charged kaolinite faces.