The goals of this study were to evaluate the microbial activity, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and inoculation of woody plants (Caesalpinia ferrea, Mimosa tenuiflora and Erythrina velutina) in lead contaminated soil from the semi-arid region of northeastern of Brazil (Belo Jardim, Pernambuco). Dilutions were prepared by adding lead contaminated soil (270 mg Kg-1) to uncontaminated soil (37 mg Pb Kg soil-1) in the proportions of 7.5%, 15%, and 30% (v:v). The increase of lead contamination in the soil negatively influenced the amount of carbon in the microbial biomass of the samples from both the dry and rainy seasons and the metabolic quotient only differed between the collection seasons in the 30% contaminated soil. The average value of the acid phosphatase activity in the dry season was 2.3 times higher than observed during the rainy season. There was no significant difference in the number of glomerospores observed between soils and periods studied. The most probable number of infective propagules was reduced for both seasons due to the excess lead in soil. The mycorrhizal colonization rate was reduced for the three plant species assayed. The inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi benefited the growth of Erythrina velutina in lead contaminated soil.