We tested whether and how functional composition changes with succession in dry deciduous and wet evergreen forests of Mexico. We hypothesized that compositional changes during succession in dry forest were mainly determined by increasing water availability leading to community functional changes from conservative to acquisitive strategies, and in wet forest by decreasing light availability leading to changes from acquisitive to conservative strategies. Research was carried out in 15 dry secondary forest plots (5–63 years after abandonment) and 17 wet secondary forest plots (<1–25 years after abandonment). Community-level functional traits were represented by community-weighted means based on 11 functional traits measured on 132 species. Successional changes in functional composition are more marked in dry forest than in wet forest and largely characterized by different traits. During dry forest succession, conservative traits related to drought tolerance and drought avoidance decreased, as predicted. Unexpectedly acquisitive leaf traits also decreased, whereas seed size and dependence on biotic dispersal increased. In wet forest succession, functional composition changed from acquisitive to conservative leaf traits, suggesting light availability as the main driver of changes. Distinct suites of traits shape functional composition changes in dry and wet forest succession, responding to different environmental filters.