Soil vulnerability to heavy metal pollution is low in soils exhibiting an ability to strongly adsorb heavy metals on their geochemical fractions. Organic matter (OM) is among other components of soils, one of the most effective sorbing fractions. Compost addition is often used for soil remediation thereby enriching the soil with OM. However, compost is often enriched with heavy metals and thereby may induce adverse effects on the soil and plants growing in them. Compost-derived dissolved organic matter (DOM) can mobilize heavy metals. The balance between two contrasting effects of compost—mobilization and immobilization of heavy metals—was studied under the conditions of adsorption–desorption batch experiment. Metal adsorption to different geochemical fractions of soil treated with compost was examined by a combined batch-adsorption experiment and a sequential extraction procedure. Compost-derived DOM mobilized Cu at low loading levels, whereas adsorption of Cd and Pb was not decreased by DOM application. Compost was found to be a source of an important reducible oxides fraction (RO—sorbing and fixation fraction) and also of the OM geochemical fractions that most commonly immobilizes heavy metals. The Langmuir and Freundlich models employed in our study exhibited a good fit for most of data the experimental data obtained on bulk samples. Adsorption of the metals on operationally defined geochemical fractions was described by a linear function in several experimental instances. © 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.