Aims Zinc (Zn) and phosphorus (P) deficiency often occurs at the same time and limits crop production in many soils. It has been suggested that citrate root exudation is a response of plants to both deficiencies. We used white lupin (Lupinus albus L.) as a model plant to clarify if citrate exuded by roots could increase the bioavailability of Zn and P in calcareous soils. Methods White lupin was grown in nutrient solution and in two calcareous soils in a rhizobox. Rhizosphere soil solution was sampled to determine citrate, metals and P. Based on the measured citrate concentrations, a soil extraction experiment with citrate as extractant was done. Results Absence of Zn triggered neither cluster root formation nor citrate exudation of white lupin grown in nutrient solution, whereas low P supply did. The maximum citrate concentration (similar to 1.5 mM) found in the cluster rhizosphere soil solution of one soil mobilized P, but not Zn. In the other soil the highest citrate concentration (similar to 0.5 mM) mobilized both elements. Conclusions White lupin does not respond to low Zn bioavailability by increasing citrate exudation. Such a response was observed at low P supply only. Whether Zn and P can be mobilized by citrate is soil-dependent and the possible controlling mechanisms are discussed.