Sorption phenomena from the aqueous and from the gaseous phase to solid surfaces play an important role for the fate of inorganic and organic compounds and of bacteria in the environment. Case studies illustrating the role of different sorption mechanisms for various classes of compounds and for bacteria are presented. They show that sorption at solid surfaces ranges from weak unspecific interactions to very specific and strong complexation. Strong surface complexation in particular affects the surface reactivity. Studies of model systems provide a conceptual framework to understand and predict the behavior of substances and of bacteria in complex environmental systems, such as aquifers and sediments.