The rare earth elements (REEs) in coals are important because of: (a) REE patterns can be an indicator of the nature of source rocks of the mineral matter as well as sedimentary environments; (b) REEs abundance in coal may have industrial-significance. In this study, a total of thirty-four samples of Permian coal, partings, roof, and floor were collected from the Huaibei Coalfield, Anhui Province, China. Abundances of rare earth elements (REEs) and other elements in the samples were determined by inductively coupled-plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and inductively coupled-plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES). The results show that the REEs are enriched in coals in the Huaibei Coalfield as compared with Chinese and U.S. coals and the world coal average. Coals in the Lower Shihezi Formation (No. 7, 5, and 4 Coals) and Upper Shihezi Formation (No. 3) have higher REE abundances than the coals in Shanxi Formation (No. 10). Magmatic intrusion resulted in high enrichment of REEs concentrations in No. 5 and 7 Coals. The REE abundances are positively correlated with the ash content. The mineral matter in these coals is mainly made up of clay minerals and carbonates. The REEs are positively correlated with lithophile elements including Si, Al, Ti, Fe, and Na, which are mainly distributed in clay minerals, indicating that REEs are contained mainly in clay minerals. The REE abundances in coals normalized by the ash are higher than that in partings. REEs abundances of coals cannot be accounted for by the REE content in the mineral matter, and some REEs associated with organic matter in coals. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.