In this study, a new fibrous adsorbent was prepared by grafting itaconic acid/acrylamide (IA/AAm) comonomers onto poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) fibers for removal of Cu(II), Ni(II) and Co(II) metal ions from aqueous solution by using batch adsorption method. Effects of various parameters such as grafting yield, pH, shaking time, initial ion concentration and reaction temperature on the adsorption amount of ions onto reactive fibers were investigated. Moreover, the recyclability and selectivity of the reactive fibers were studied. The results show that the adsorption rate of metal ions followed as given in the order Ni(II) > Co(II) > Cu(II). The adsorption amount of ions increased with grafting yield, shaking time, adsorption temperature and pH of the medium. The maximum adsorption capacities of the reactive fiber for Cu(II), Ni(II) and Co(II) are 7.73, 13.79 and 14.81 mg/g, respectively. It was found that the adsorption isotherm of the ions fitted Langmuir-type isotherm. The activation energies of ions for adsorption were calculated as 17.32, 12.83 and 6.98 kJ/mol for Cu(II), Ni(II) and Co(II) ions, respectively. It was observed that the grafted fibers are stable and regenerable by acid without losing their activity and it is more selective for Cu(II) ions in the mixed solution of Cu-Ni, Cu-Co, and Cu-Ni-Co at pH 4. The grafted fibers and the metal loaded fibers were characterized by FTIR, TGA and SEM. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.