The mineralogical and fabric characteristics of weathered volcanic rocks, which are widespread in Hong Kong, are poorly documented. Consequently, the significant variations commonly observed, even at the same locality, in engineering properties and in situ behaviour of these rocks and the resulting soils cannot be adequately related to their basic mineralogical and fabric characteristics. A model for weathering of volcanic rocks, particularly those of pyroclastic origin, is presented in this paper. Modifications, similar to those recently proposed for granites by Irfan, are proposed to the material and mass weathering schemes commonly adopted in Hong Kong for the characterization of weathered volcanic rocks in engineering use. The appropriateness of various proposed petrographic and chemical weathering indices to generally fine-grained volcanic rocks is examined. A number of modifications are proposed to the standard soil preparation and testing methods for the soils formed from tropical weathering of volcanic rocks in order to obtain meaningful and more repeatable results.