Polyethyleneglycolmethacrylate (PEGMA) and vinylimidazole (VI) were used in order to obtain microspheres of PEGMA-VI copolymers that can be used in heavy metal removal applications. The obtained copolymers were characterized and their use as sorbents in heavy metal removal was investigated. In the first part of the study, PEGMA-VI microspheres were prepared by suspension polymerization method. The obtained swellable microspheres with 10-50 mu m average diameter did not have permanent porosity according to the morphological and physicochemical determinations. The sizes of microspheres became smaller with increasing VI and cross-linker ethyleneglycoldimethacrylate (EGDMA) contents and increasing agitation rate. The VI content, EGDMA ratio, pH and ionic strength were determined as the effective parameters on the swelling behavior of PEGMA-VI microspheres. In the second part of the study, Cu(II) ions were used as a model species in order to investigate the usability of the obtained PEGMA-VI microspheres in heavy metal removal. Adsorption capacities under optimum conditions were determined. The Cu(II) ion adsorption capacity increased by increasing the initial Cu(II) ion concentration, and it reached the maximum value (i.e., 30 mg Cu(II)/g PEGMA-VI microspheres) at 400 mg Cu(II)/L initial Cu(II) ion concentration under the determined optimum conditions. Microspheres were found to be reusable after desorption for several times. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.