Ants frequently interact with non-myrmecochorous diaspores on the ground in neotropical savannas. Our objective was to quantify the removal rate of these diaspores by ants and vertebrates in order to test the predator avoidance hypothesis, and to test how diaspore traits influence removal by ants and dispersal distance. We also investigated whether seed cleaning (removal of fruit matter simulating ant activity) can influence seed germination. We performed removal experiments with nine diaspore species in a reserve of cerrado savanna in south-east Brazil. Considerable differences in removal rates were found among the nine species. We found a positive linear relationship between lipid content and removal rates for five diaspore species. Vertebrate predation pressure was low for most species, limiting the benefits that ants can provide to plants to escape predators. Ants displace diaspores up to 25 m, which may increase the chance of a seed hitting a safe site. Smaller diaspores attain longer distances of dispersal than large ones. Seed cleaning increased the germination rate for five out of six species tested in greenhouse experiments. Ant activity can have relevant and possibly lasting effects on seed fate of plants adapted for vertebrate dispersal in the cerrado savanna.