Regional studies on the bioavailability of metals at native and disturbed sites were conducted over the past seven years by the USGS. The work was concentrated in the Fort Union, Powder River, and Green River coal resource regions where measures of extractable metals in soils were found to have limited use in predicting metal levels in plants. Correlations between Cu, Fe, and Zn in plants and extractable (DTPA, EDTA, and oxalate) or total levels in native A- and C-horizons of soil were occasionally significant. A simple linear model is generally not adequate, however, in estimating element uptake by plants. Prediction capabilities were improved when a number of soil chemical and physical parameters were included as independent variables in a stepwise linear multiple regression analysis; however, never more than 54% of the total variability in the data was explained by the equations for these metals. Soil pH was the most important variable relating soil chemistry to plant chemistry. This relation was always positive and apparently a response to soil levels of metal carbonates and not Fe and Mn oxides. Studies that compared the metal uptake by rehabilitation species to extractable (DTPA) metal levels in mice soils produced similar results. ?? 1984 Science and Technology Letters.