Rare earth elements (REEs) in soils are influenced by pedogenic processes and anthropogenic activities. To interpret the fractionation and migration of REEs during weathering in (sub-) tropical regions, the distribution, fractionation patterns, and environmental effects of REEs in laterites were investigated in this study. Soil samples from two laterite profiles (labeled with S1 and S2) were collected and the concentration of REEs were measured with an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). The results suggested that the REEs of S2 (119 ± 10 mg/kg to 209 ± 10 mg/kg) has a higher concentration and a wider variation than that of S1 (114 ± 5 mg/kg to 154 ± 8 mg/kg). The REEs in both laterite profiles are enriched with the order of HREEs > LREEs > MREEs. The distribution patterns of laterite profiles show evidence of inheritance from parent granites. The laterites preferentially incorporated HREEs, and besides, secondary Fe2O3 and clay minerals were likely to affect the fractionation of REEs in laterites. The enrichment factor of REEs varies from 11.1 to 18.9 for S1 and 10.0 to 27.6 for S1, indicating potential pollution by REEs. The accumulation of REEs in laterites by mining activities should be a concern of environmental agencies of governments.