A greenhouse experiment was set up with maize, ryegrass, Indian mustard, wheat and pea to evaluate to what extent differences in uranium transfer factors can be explained by root-mediated changes in selected soil properties. The experiment involved an acid and an alkaline soil contaminated with 238 U. U soil-to-shoot transfer factors (TFs) ranged between 0.0005 and 0.021 on the acid soil and between 0.007 and 0.179 on the alkaline soil. Indian mustard showed the highest U uptake in shoots and maize the lowest. The root TFs, only available for the acid soil, ranged from 0.58 for maize and Indian mustard to 1.38 for ryegrass. The difference in U uptake between the two soils and the five plants was only partially explained by the different initial U concentrations in soil solution or differences in soil properties in the two soils. However, we obtained a significant relation for differences in shoot TFs observed between the two soils when relating shoot TFs with concentration of UO2 2+ and uranyl carbonate complexes in soil solution. The physiological mechanisms by which root-to-shoot U transfer is inhibited or promoted seemed at least as important as the plant-induced changes in soil characteristics in determining TFs.