Heavy metal-bearing waste usually needs solidification/stabilization (s/s) prior to landfill to lower the leaching rate. Cement is the most adaptable binder currently available for the immobilisation of heavy metals. The selection of cements and operating parameters depends upon an understanding of chemistry of the system. This paper discusses interactions of heavy metals and cement phases in the solidification/stabilisation process. It provides a clarification of heavy metal effects on cement hydration. According to the decomposition rate of minerals, heavy metals accelerate the hydration of tricalcium silicate (C3S) and Portland cement, although they retard the precipitation of portlandite due to the reduction of pH resulted from hydrolyses of heavy metal ions. The chemical mechanism relevant to the accelerating effect of heavy metals is considered to be H+ attacks on cement phases and the precipitation of calcium heavy metal double hydroxides, which consumes calcium ions and then promotes the decomposition of C3S. In this work, molecular models of calcium silicate hydrate gel are presented based on the examination of 29Si solid-state magic angle spinning/nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS/NMR). This paper also reviews immobilisation mechanisms of heavy metals in hydrated cement matrices, focusing on the sorption, precipitation and chemical incorporation of cement hydration products. It is concluded that further research on the phase development during cement hydration in the presence of heavy metals and thermodynamic modelling is needed to improve effectiveness of cement-based s/s and extend this waste management technique.