Binding of lead (Pb) to soil fulvic acid (JGFA), soil humic acids (JGHA, JLHA), and lignite-based humic acid (PAHA) was investigated through binding isotherms and XAFS. Pb binding to humic substances (HS) increased with increasing pH and decreasing ionic strength. The NICA-Donnan model described Pb binding to the HS satisfactorily. The comparison of the model parameters showed substantial differences in median Pb affinity constants among JGFA, PAHA, and the soil HAs. Milne's "generic" parameters did not provide an adequate prediction for the soil samples. The Pb binding prediction with generic parameters for the soil HAs was improved significantly by using the value n(Pb1) = 0.92 instead of the generic value n(Pb1) = 0.60. The n(Pb1)/n(H1) ratios obtained were relatively high, indicating monodentate Pb binding to the carboxylic-type groups. The nPb2/nH2 ratios depended somewhat on the method of optimization, but the values were distinctly lower than the n(Pb1)/nH1 ratios, especially when the optimization was based on Pb bound vs log [Pb(2+)]. These low values indicate bidentate binding to the phenolic-type groups at high Pb concentration. The NICA-Donnan model does not consider bidentate binding of Pb to a carboxylic- and a phenolic-type group. The EXAFS results at high Pb loading testified that Pb was bound in bidentate complexes of one carboxylic and one phenolic group (salicylate-type) or two phenolic groups (catechol-type) in ortho position.