This paper describes a versatile, and simple synthetic route for the preparation of a range of reduced graphene oxide (RGO)-metal/metal oxide composites and their application in water purification. The inherent reduction ability of RGO has been utilized to produce the composite structure from the respective precursor ions. Various spectroscopic and microscopic techniques were employed to characterize the as-synthesized composites. The data reveal that the RGO-composites are formed through a redox-like reaction between RGO and the metal precursor. RGO is progressively oxidized primarily to graphene oxide (GO) and the formed metal nanoparticles are anchored onto the carbon sheets. Metal ion scavenging applications of RGO-MnO2 and RGO-Ag were demonstrated by taking Hg(II) as the model pollutant. RGO and the composites give a high distribution coefficient (Kd), greater than 10Lg-1 for Hg(II) uptake. The Kd values for the composites are found to be about an order of magnitude higher compared to parent RGO and GO for this application. A methodology was developed to immobilize RGO-composites on river sand (RS) using chitosan as the binder. The as-supported composites are found to be efficient adsorbent candidates for field application. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.