Land-use changes can alter carbon cycling. Soil carbon loss resulting from the conversion of natural forests to rubber plantations (RP) may occur due to changes in litter inputs or in biotic and abiotic environmental conditions. In this study, we conducted a reciprocal soil and litter translocation mesocosm experiment for 15 months in a seasonal rainforest (SR) and RP to elucidate the effect of litter, soil and site conditions on heterotrophic respiration and its temperature sensitivity after land-use conversion. We found that rate of soil heterotrophic respiration (Rh) was higher at RP site than at SR site or for SR litter than RP litter with significant interactions between forest site and litter type, and did not differ between SR and RP soils. The Q10 values of Rh did not differ between forest sites, soils, or litter types but were substantially lower when litter was absent and substantially higher when RP soil was incubated in SR site and vice versa. Removal of surface litters led to a reduction of Rh by 27-45%. Soil labile organic C pool and microbial biomass were not influenced by litter type or forest site, but were influenced by soil origin, with higher values for SR soil than RP soil. Soil temperature and moisture were not influenced by litter type and soil but differed between forest sites with higher moisture at RP site than SR site. Our results suggested that changes in physical environmental conditions, rather than changes in litter input or soil biochemical properties, attributed to the elevated soil heterotrophic respiration in RP, resulting in soil carbon loss following the tropical land-use changes.