ABSTRACT Soils classified as Alisols are very frequent in the sedimentary agricultural areas of southern Brazil. The presence of red mottles with morphology similar to plinthite and saprolite residue is very common in these soils, and its identification can be considered a difficult task, both in the field and in the laboratory. The incorrect identification of these redoximorphic features can affect soils’ taxonomic and technical classification. We aimed to compare morphological, physical, chemical and mineralogical data to identify reddish mottles, possibly plinthites or saprolite residues, that occur in soils with high textural contrast in southern Brazil. Four soil profiles classified as Argissolos Bruno-Acinzentados (Alisols) were sampled. Matrix and mottles samples from the horizon Bt, CB, C and Cr were separated and subjected to morphological, granulometric, total sand fractionation, chemical extractions of iron and potassium and mineralogical features. Peds from each horizon were submitted to the submersion test in water for 2 and 8 hours and to 5 wetting and drying cycles. The mineralogy indicated the low degree of alteration of the samples, with abundant presence of 2:1 minerals and feldspars, even in the clay fraction. The saprolite resisted in the water submersion tests, making it difficult to interpret the results for the correct identification between plinthites and saprolite fragments. The morphological field data associated with the results of the tests of submersion in water, the cycle of wetting and drying, the dissolution of K and mineralogy, indicate the saprolithic nature of the mottles in all horizons and profiles. The submersion test in water for 2 and 8 hours was not efficient for the plinthite/saprolite identification. The cycle of wetting and drying tests allowed the identification of saprolite.