Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are easy to prepare, stable, inexpensive and capable of molecular recognition. MIPs can be considered as affinity separation media. Cadmium is a carcinogenic and mutagenic element. There is no specific treatment available for acute or chronic metal poisoning. Besides supportive therapy and hemodialysis, metal poisoning is often treated with commercially available chelating agents including EDTA and dimercaprol. However, there is histopathological evidence for increased toxicity in animals when these agents are utilized. The aim of this study is to prepare ion-imprinted polymers, which can be used for the selective removal of Cd2+ ions from Cd2+_ overdosed human plasma. N-Methacryloly-(L)-cysteinemethylester (MAC) was chosen as the complexing monomer. In the first step, Cd2+ was complexed with MAC and the Cd2+- imprinted p(HEMA-MAC) beads were synthesized by suspension polymerization. After that, the template (i.e., Cd2+ ions) were removed using 0.1 M thiourea solution. The specific surface area of the Cd2+-imprinted poly(HEMA-MAC) beads was found to be 19.4 m(2)/g with a size range of 63-140 mum in diameter and the swelling ratio was 78%. According to the elemental analysis results, the beads contained 42.1 mumol MAC/g polymer. The maximum adsorption capacity was 32.5 mumol Cd2+/g beads. The relative selectivity coefficients of imprinted beads for Cd2+/Pb2+ and Cd2+/Zn2+ were 7.8 and 1683 times greater than non-imprinted matrix, respectively. The Cd2+-imprinted poly(HEMA-MAC) beads could be used many times without decreasing their adsorption capacities significantly. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.