Poly(hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) nanoparticles with an average size of 300 nm in diameter and with a polydispersity index of 1.156 were produced by surfactant free emulsion polymerization. Specific surface area of the PHEMA nanoparticles was found to be 996 m(2)/g. Metal-chelating ligand 3-(2-imidazoline-1-yl)propyl(triethoxysilane) (IMEO) was covalently attached to the PHEMA nanoparticles. IMEO content was 0.97 mmol IEMC/g. The morphology and properties of these nanoparticles were characterized with scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy. The Cu2+-chelated PHEMA-IMEO nanoparticles were used in the adsorption-elution studies of human serum albumin (HSA) in a batch system. Maximum HSA adsorption amount of the Cu2+ chelated nanoparticles was 680 mg HSA/g. The PHEMA-IMEO-Cu2+ nanoparticles exhibited a quite high adsorption capacity and fast adsorption rate due to their high specific surface area and the absence of internal diffusion resistance. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.