Plants are adapted to soils in which the amounts of different nutrients vary widely, like Zn-deficient or Zn-contaminated soils. Exploring the molecular bases of plant adaptation to Zn-contaminated soils is important in determining strategies for phytoremediation. Here, we describe the mapping and characterization of a QTL for Zn tolerance in A. thaliana that underlies the natural variation of the root response to excess Zn. This physiological variation is controlled by different alleles of the AtFRD3 gene, which codes for a citrate transporter that uploads citrate into the xylem sap, hence playing a role in Fe homeostasis. In the Zn-sensitive accession Shahdara, the expression of AtFRD3 is drastically reduced and the protein encoded is unable to efflux citrate in vitro. Less Fe and Zn are found in Shahdara root exudates, and less Fe and Zn are translocated from root to shoot when Zn is in excess. We deduce that a fine-tuned Fe and Zn homeostasis is crucial for Zn tolerance in A. thaliana. Finally, as a range of alleles were identified, some rare, it was possible to define a sequence motif that is a putative metal-responsive cis-element and demonstrate that two amino acids are essential for the function of the FRD3 transporter.