There is growing concern that increasing eutrophication causes degradation of coastal ecosystems. Studies in terrestrial ecosystems have shown that increasing the concentration of nitrogen in soils contributes to the acidification process, which leads to leaching of base cations. To test the effects of eutrophication on the availability of base cations in mangroves, we compared paired leaf and soil nutrient levels sampled in Nypa fruticans and Rhizophora spp. on a severely disturbed, i.e. nutrient loaded, site (Mahakam delta) with samples from an undisturbed, near-pristine site (Berau delta) in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The findings indicate that under pristine conditions, the availability of base cations in mangrove soils is determined largely by salinity. Anthropogenic disturbances on the Mahakam site have resulted in eutrophication, which is related to lower levels of foliar and soil base cations. Path analysis suggests that increasing soil nitrogen reduces soil pH, which in turn reduces the levels of foliar and soil base cations in mangroves.