Organic acidity and its degree of neutralization in the forest floor can have large consequences for base cation leaching under different tree species. We investigated the effect of organic acids on base cation leaching from the forest floor under six common North American tree species. Forest floor samples were analysed for exchangeable cations and forest floor solutions for cations, anions, simple organic acids and acidic properties. Citric and lactic acid were the most common of the acids under all species. Malonic acid was found mainly under Tsuga canadensis (hemlock) and Fagus grandifolia (beech). The organic acids were positively correlated with dissolved organic carbon and contributed significantly to the organic acidity of the solution (up to 26Ž Forest floor solutions under Tsuga canadensis contained the most dissolved C and the most weak acidity among the six tree species. Under Tsuga canadensis we also found significant amounts of strong acidity caused by deposition of sulphuric acid from the atmosphere and by strong organic acids. Base cation exchange was the most important mechanism by which acidity was neutralized. Organic acids in solution from Tsuga canadensis, Fagus grandifolia, Acer rubrum (red maple) and Quercus rubra (red oak) were hardly neutralized while much more organic acidity was neutralized for Acer saccharum (sugar maple) and Fraxinus americana (white ash). We conclude that quantity, nature and degree of neutralization of organic acids differ among the different tree species. While the potential for base cation leaching with organic acids from the forest floor is greatest under Tsuga canadensis, actual leaching with organic anions is greatest under Acer saccharum and Fraxinus americana under which the forest floor contains more exchangeable cations than does the strongly acidified forest floor under Tsuga canadensis.