Heavy metal pollution of soil is a significant environmental problem and has a negative impact on human health and agriculture. Phytoremediation can be an alternative environmental treatment technology, using the natural ability of plants to take up and accumulate pollutants or transform them. Proper development of plants in contaminated areas (e.g. heavy metals) requires them to generate the appropriate protective mechanisms against the toxic effects of these pollutants. This paper presents an overview of the physiological mechanisms of stress avoidance and tolerance by plants used in phytoremediation of heavy metals.