Abstract: The negative surface charge of synthetic allophanes with a range of Si/Al ratios decreased and positive charge increased with increasing alumina content at a given pH. The phosphate adsorption capacity also increased with increasing Al content. That this relationship between composition and chemical reactivity was not found for the soil allophanes is attributed to the presence of specifically adsorbed organic or inorganic anions on the natural material. Both synthetic and natural imogolites had a much lower capacity to adsorb phosphate than the allophanes and adsorbed anomalously high amounts of Cl− and ClO4− at high pH. It is proposed that intercalation of salt occurs in imogolite, although electron spin resonance studies using spin probes failed to reveal the trapping of small organic molecules in imogolite tubes. These spin probes in the carboxylated form did, however, suggest an electrostatic retention of carboxylate by imogolite and a more specific adsorption by allophane involving ligand exchange of surface hydroxyl. The results illustrate the inherent differences in charge and surface properties of allophane and imogolite despite the common structural unit which the two minerals incorporate.