Potassium chloride (KCl) is the most widely used fertilizer in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations and the rates applied are based on interpretation of leaf K contents. When no positive response on leaf K contents can be detected, no optimum content can be established whatever the yield response to KCl rates. We used data from 13 fertilization trials conducted on several continents to study the responses of leaf K, leaf Cl, leaf Ca and yield to KCl rates as a function of the soil properties of each site. We found that the abundance of exchangeable Ca in the soil expressed as a percent of the cation exchange capacity (CEC) was the best soil variable to predict if leaf K content would increase with KCl rates. In addition, we found that the leaf K contents of unfertilized controls at the end of the trials were also correlated with Ca/CEC. This ratio thus appears to be a better index of soil K reserves than soil exchangeable K content.