Topsoil samples from 61 sites around the Guanting Reservoir, China, were measured for Cu, Zn, Cr, Ni, Cd, Pb and As concentrations. The mean concentrations of Cu, Zn, Cr, Ni, Cd, Pb and As were 16.8, 59.4, 37.8, 18.3, 0.32, 20.1 and 8.67 mg/kg dry weight, respectively. Factors that influence the dynamics of these metals in soils around the watersheds of Beijing reservoirs were examined. The influence of atmospheric deposition, land use, soil texture, soil type and soil chemical parameters on metal contents in soils was investigated. Atmospheric deposition, land use and soil texture were the important factors affecting heavy metal residues. Soil type and soil chemical parameters were also involved in heavy metal retention in soils. The data provided in this study are considered crucial for reservoir remediation, especially since the Guanting Reservoir will serve as one of the main drinking water sources for Beijing in the foreseeable future.