Analysis of the heavy metal content in a Holocene-Pliocene red bed sequence near San Felipe in N Baja California, Mexico, has yielded new information on the mobility and distribution of these metals during ageing of iron oxyhydroxides from the amorphous to the crystalline state. Whole-rock samples (27) and a series of successive leachates were analysed for V, Al, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu and Zn by ICP spectrometry and for U by a delayed neutron technique. These data are supported by a variety of other mineralogical and petrographical observations. The results indicate that the metal content of the samples is predominantly inherited from the constituent detrital minerals. Reddening of the whole-rock samples does not promote major open-system migration of the heavy metals; rather, contained metals redistribute themselves on an intergranular scale, moving from detrital mineral hosts to the secondary iron oxides. The amount of secondary iron oxides and the fraction of whole-rock metals associated with these oxides increase during red-bed development. In addition, the abundance of well- crystallized iron oxides increases during this period. Differences in the leaching efficiency for various metals are related to differences in metal site distribution and intergranular permeability. Inferred conditions for rapid vs limited removal of metals from red beds are summarized. It is suggested that developed red beds which are well flushed by suitable pore fluids may be sources of significant quantities of heavy metals. -J.E.S.