The clay fraction of four cores drilled in the north Atlantic Ocean was studied at a very high resolution over the last 150 ka in order to record the mineralogical signature of Heinrich events. Factor analysis of clay mineralogy establishes that three independent factors represent the main variations: a 'detrital factor' (illite + chlorite + kaolinite), a 'smectite factor', and a 'mixed-layer factor' (IVML: illite-vermiculite mixed-layered clay). The clay mineral fraction of Core SU90-38 drilled in the northeastern Atlantic basin did not record any Heinrich event, whereas large changes in the clay mineral fraction occurred during Heinrich events HI, H2, H4, and H5 in the three cores from the northwestern atlantic basin (cores SU90-08, SU90-11, and SU90-12). Heinrich layers are characterized by increases in the detrital factor in cores SU90-08 and SU90-11, and sharp increases in the mixed-layer factor in cores SU90-11 and SU90-12. The geographical setting of the Cores, the pattern of surface, intermediate and deep water circulation, and the main sources of clay minerals allow recognition of two major mechanisms involved in the deposition of the Heinrich Layers: (1) an increased supply of detrital clay minerals by the icebergs; and (2) a specific input of illite-vermiculite mixed-layer clay minerals by a nepheloid layer.