Abstract: This paper aims at characterizing the morphology, texture, and microstructure of three hydrated kaolin rich clays (f < 0.2 µm) from volcanic soils. These clays represent a weathering sequence in which CEC, halloysite content with respect to kaolinite, as well as smectite content in the halloysite-smectite mixed-layer clays decrease with increased weathering. The clay samples were made homoionic (K+ or Mg2+) and hydrated under a low suction pressure (3.2 kPa). After replacing water by a resin, ultrathin sections were cut and examined by TEM. Particle shape varies with increased weathering, as follows: spheroids → tubes → platelets. Higher aggregation and dispersion are observed by TEM after Mg2+ and K+ saturation, respectively, at two levels of the clay-water system organization: intraparticle and interparticle. The microstructure variations induced by the nature of the exchangeable cation become less pronounced with decreasing layer charge of the 2:1 layers. They are thus related here to the presence of smectite layers localized in the halloysite habitus, mostly at the particle periphery. These results show that small amounts of smectite largely affect the organization of clays rich in kaolins at a high water content, and that K+ behaves here as a dispersing ion.