Because of low net production in arctic and subarctic surface water, dissolved organic matter (DOM) discharged from terrestrial settings plays an important role for carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arctic aquatic systems. Sorption, typically controlling the export of DOM from soil, may be influenced by the permafrost regime. To confirm the potential sorptive control on the release of DOM from permafrost soils in central northern Siberia, we examined the sorption of DOM by mineral soils of Gelisols and Inceptisols with varying depth of the active layer. Water-soluble organic matter in the O horizons of the Gelisols was less (338 and 407 mg C kg−1) and comprised more dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the hydrophobic fraction (HoDOC) (63% and 70%) than in the O horizons of the Inceptisols (686 and 706 mg C kg−1, 45% and 48% HoDOC). All A and B horizons from Gelisols sorbed DOC strongly, with a preference for HoDOC. Almost all horizons of the Inceptisols showed a weaker sorption of DOC than those of the Gelisols. The C horizons of the Inceptisols, having a weak overall DOC sorption, sorbed C in the hydrophilic fraction (HiDOC) stronger than HoDOC. The reason for the poor overall sorption and also the preferential sorption of HiDOC is likely the high pH (pH>7.0) of the C horizons and the smaller concentrations of iron oxides. For all soils, the sorption of HoDOC related positively to oxalate- and dithionite–citrate-extractable iron. The A horizons released large amounts of DOC with 46–80% of HiDOC. The released DOC was significantly (r=0.78, P<0.05) correlated with the contents of soil organic carbon. From these results, we assume that large concentrations of DOM comprising large shares of HiDOC can pass mineral soils where the active layer is thin (i.e. in Gelisols), and enter streams. Soils with deep active layer (i.e. Inceptisols), may release little DOM because of more frequent infiltration of DOM into their thick mineral horizons despite their smaller contents of reactive, poorly crystalline minerals. The results obtained for the Inceptisols are in agreement with the situation observed for streams connecting to Yenisei at lower latitudes than 65°50′ with continuous to discontinuous permafrost. The smaller sorption of DOM by the Gelisols is in agreement with the larger DOM concentrations in more northern catchments. However, the Gelisols preferentially retained the HoDOC which dominates the DOC in streams towards north. This discrepancy can be explained by additional seepage water from the organic horizons that is discharged into streams without intensive contact with the mineral soil.