Soil organic carbon (SOC) retention is a function of climate, vegetation, drainage, and management interactions, but also of intrinsic soil properties such as texture, mineralogy, and structure. To assess these edaphic controls, three soils of the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado) under similar climate, vegetation, and slope but of contrasting texture were sampled to 1-m depth and characterized for textural, chemical, and mineralogical properties, and SOC concentration (in bulk samples and clay, silt, and sand fractions). The basic assumption was that SOC particle size determines its retention mechanism: colloidal forms are retained by sorption, while particulate organic matter (>20 μm) can occur outside or inside aggregates. It was hypothesized that SOC retention is controlled simultaneously by soil texture, mineralogy, and depth. The three soils are clayey, loamy, and sandy Haplustox, all kaolinitic with minor contents of Fe and Al oxides, vermiculite, and illite. The SOC concentrations in particle size fractions were inversely related to the content of the respective fraction in soil (SOC dilution effect), thus SOC partition is better assessed by determination of SOC pools in each particle size on a total soil mass basis rather than on a size-fraction concentration basis. The positive linear relations between SOC and clay + silt concentrations in bulk soil were explained mostly by greater clay-sized SOC pools, which could be modeled as a function of clay content (related to specific surface area) and depth. Quantitative clay mineralogy showed that bulk SOC and clay-sized SOC pools were well correlated with Fe oxides in topsoil and amorphous Al oxides in subsoil, but this mineralogical control is secondary to the textural control, since it depends on clay content.