The soils of Scotland are relatively young, being developed mainly on glacial drift deposited some 10 000 years ago. Only a small number of genetic soil types are represented, but this is more than compensated for by the wide variety of parent materials from which the drift ultimately derives. The major parent materials include granite and granitic gneiss, gabbro, basalt/andesite, mica-schist and related metamorphic rock types, Lower Palaeozoic greywackes and shales, Old Red Sandstone sediments, Carboniferous sediments, fluvioglacial sands and gravels, and estuarine silts and clays. The clay mineralogy of the soil associations developed on these parent materials is described and the origin of the clay minerals is interpreted. It is concluded that the influence of inheritance is predominant, but that the effects of pre-glacial weathering and Holocene pedogenesis can also be discerned. Inheritance has contributed a wide variety of clay minerals to the soils, including illite, kaolinite, chlorite, smectite and a number of interstratified minerals, pre-glacial weathering has resulted in the widespread formation of kaolinite and halloysite, irrespective of soil parent material or drainage class, and recent pedogenesis has brought about the transformation of inherited layer silicates by vermiculitization processes, with concomitant interlayer alumination, particularly in surface horizons.