Vegetation at mining sites can produce increased heavy metal leaching by the organic acids and protons originating from root secretion and litter degradation. Batch experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of organic acids and pH on the extraction of Pb, Cd, Zn and Cu from an alkaline mine soil and an acid mine soil. The results showed that in the presence of organic acids (acetic, oxalic, malic, fumaric, tartaric and citric acids) at pH 7, the extraction of Pb, Cd, Zn and Cu from the acid mine soil was much higher than that from the alkaline mine soil, in which only citric acid with higher concentration was capable of extracting some heavy metals. Citric acid had the strongest ability in extracting heavy metals, followed by oxalic acid. Heavy metal extraction dramatically decreased with increasing pH. Moreover, at low pH, oxalic acid promoted the risk of Cu leaching; at high pH, the leaching of Pb, Zn, Cd and Cu was enhanced by both oxalic and citric acids. This indicated that those plants which can produce substantial citric acid or oxalic acid by root secretion and litter degradation should not be selected for the revegetation of mining sites.