In this work, we describe the use of silver nanoparticles of 9±2 and 20±5nm core diameter, protected by mercaptosuccinic acid (MSA) and supported on activated alumina for the removal of mercuric ions present in contaminated waters, at room temperature (28±1°C). These two nanoparticle samples were prepared by using two Ag:MSA ratios 1:6 and 1:3, respectively, during synthesis and were loaded on alumina at 0.5 and 0.3% by weight. The mechanism of interaction of silver nanoparticles with Hg2+ ions was studied using various analytical techniques such as ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-vis), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), energy dispersive analysis of X-rays (EDAX), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Interactions of the metal ion with the metal core, the surface head group and the monolayer functionality were investigated. A high removal ability of 0.8g of mercury per gram of Ag@MSA was achieved in the case of 1:6 Ag@MSA. These two materials show better uptake capacity of Hg2+ in the pH range of 5-6. The ease of synthesis of the nanomaterial by wet chemistry, capability to load on suitable substrates to create stable materials and affordable cost will make it possible to use this approach in field applications, especially for the treatment of Hg2+ contaminated waters. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.