Understanding the mechanism of arsenic mobilization from sediments to groundwater is important for water quality management in areas of endemic arsenic poisoning, such as the Hetao Basin in Inner Mongolia, northern China. Aquifer geochemistry was characterized at three field sites (SH, HF, TYS) in Hangjinhouqi County of northwestern Hetao Basin. The results of bulk geochemistry analysis of sediment samples indicated that total As concentrations have a range of 6. 8-58. 5 mg/kg, with a median of 14. 4 mg/kg. The highest As concentrations were found at 15-25 m depth. In the meanwhile, the range of As concentration in the sediments from background borehole is 3-21. 8 mg/kg, with a median value of 9 mg/kg. The As sediments concentrations with depth from the SH borehole were correlated with the contents of Fe, Sb, B, V, total C and total S. Generally, the abundance of elements varied with grain size, with higher concentrations in finer fractions of the sediments. Distinct lithology profile and different geochemical characteristics of aquifer sediments indicate the sediments are associated with different sources and diverse sedimentary environments. Up to one third of arsenic in the sediments could be extracted by ammonium oxalate, suggesting that Fe oxyhydroxides may be the major sink of As in the aquifer. Sequential extraction results indicate that arsenic occurs as strongly adsorbed on and/or co-precipitated with amorphous Fe oxyhydroxides in sediments accounting for 35 and 20%, respectively, of the total contents of arsenic. The release of As into groundwater may occur by desorption from the mineral surface driven by reductive dissolution of the Fe oxide minerals. Furthermore, small proportions of As associated with iron sulfides occur in the reductive sediments. ?? 2011 Springer-Verlag.