We summarize here experimental studies of proton and metal ion binding to a peat and a humic acid. Data analysis is based on a unified physico-chemical model for reaction of simple ions with polyelectrolytes employing a modified Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. Peat exhibited an apparent intrinsic acid dissociation constant of 10-4.05, and an apparent intrinsic metal ion binding constant of: 400 for cadmium ion; 600 for zinc ion; 4000 for copper ion; 20000 for lead ion. A humic acid was found to have an apparent intrinsic proton binding constant of 10-2.6. Copper ion binding to this humic acid sample occurred at two types of sites. The first site exhibited reaction characteristics which were independent of solution pH and required the interaction of two ligands on the humic acid matrix to simultaneously complex with each copper ion. The second complex species is assumed to be a simple monodentate copper ion-carboxylate species with a stability constant of 18. ?? 1984.