Several leaching tests were applied and compared to study metal remobilisation on various unpolluted and contaminated soils and on several contaminated sediments. The trace elements considered were Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn, and leaching tests consisted of the application of reagents with contrasting characteristics and strengths in order to assess the information provided. An extraction with aqua regia permitted the estimation of the pseudo-total metal content in the sample. Mild extractants such as H2O, CaCl2 and NaNO3 showed low and similar leaching capacities. Acid (CH3COOH) and complexing (EDTA) agents were more effective in remobilising trace metals from soils and sediments. Cd and Zn showed similar extraction characteristics under both extractant solutions, whereas Cu and Pb were more sensitive to complexation, and Ni and Cr to acidification processes. Sequential chemical extractions provided additional information on the association of the trace elements with the different soil and sediment phases. Cd and Zn showed the highest mobility, Pb was associated to reducible solid phases, Cu and Ni to oxidisable phases, and Cr remained mostly in the residual fraction. The results obtained in this paper provided valuable information for choosing a leaching test, which is an instrument of environmental analysis for the estimation of trace metal mobility.