Activated carbons were developed from Casurina equisetifolia leaves, by chemically treating with sulfuric acid (1:1) or zinc chloride (25%), at low (425 °C) and high (825 °C) temperatures. The resulting powdered activated carbons were applied for removing mercuric ions from aqueous solution at different agitation times and mercuric ion concentrations. The equilibrium data fitted well the Langmuir adsorption isotherm. The Langmuir adsorption capacities were 12.3 and 20.3 mgg-1 for low temperature carbons and 43.9 and 38.5 mgg-1 for high temperature carbons impregnated with H2SO4 and ZnCl2, respectively. Studies of the effects of carbon dosage, NaCl concentrations and solution pH values were carried out for the more effective, high temperature carbons. Increasing NaCl concentration resulted in a significant decrease in the adsorption efficiency. Adsorption was high from solutions with low and neutral pH values and lower for solutions with alkaline pH values for the high temperature carbons. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.