We have prepared a novel metal-chelate adsorbent utilizing N-methaeryloyl-L-histidine methyl ester (MAH) as a metal-chelating ligand. MAH was synthesized by using methacryloyl chloride and L-histidine methyl ester dihydrochloride. Spherical beads with an average diameter of 75-125 mum were produced by suspension polymerization of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) and MAH carried out in an aqueous dispersion medium. Then, Cull ions were chelated directly on the chelating beads. Cu2+-chelated beads were used in the adsorption of cytochrome c (cyt c) from aqueous solutions. The maximum cyt c adsorption capacity of the Cu2+-chelated beads (658.2 mumol/g Cu2+ loading) was found to be 31.7 mg/g at pH 10 in phosphate buffer. The nonspecific cyt c adsorption on the naked PHEMA beads was 0.2 mg/g. Cyt c adsorption increased with increasing Cu2+ loading. Cyt c adsorption capacity was demonstrated for the buffer types with the effects in the order phosphate > HEPES > MOPS > MES > Tris-HCl. Cyt c molecules could be adsorbed and desorbed five times with these adsorbents without noticeable loss in their cyt c adsorption capacity.