Poly(N-(hydroxymethyl)methacrylamide)-1-allyl-2-thiourea) hydrogels, poly(NHMMA-ATU), were synthesized by gamma radiation using Co-60 gamma source in the ternary mixture of NHMMA-ATU-H2O. These hydrogels were used for the specific gold, silver, platinum and palladium recovery, pre-concentration and matrix elimination from the solutions containing trace amounts of precious metal ions. Elimination of inorganic matrices such as different transition and heavy metal ions, and anions was performed by adjusting the solution pH to 0.5 that was the selective adsorption pH of the precious metal ions. Desorption of the precious metal ions was performed by using 0.8 M thiourea in 3 M HCl as the most efficient desorbing agent with recovery values more than 95%. In the desorption medium, thiourea effect on the atomic signal was eliminated by selecting proper pyrolysis and atomization temperatures for all precious metal ions. Precision and the accuracy of the results were improved in the graphite fumace-atomic absorption spectrometer (GFAAS) measurements by applying the developed matrix elimination method performing the adsorption at pH 0.5. Pre-concentration factors of the studied precious metal ions were found to be at least 1000-fold. Detection limits of the precious metal ions were found to be less than 10 ng L-1 of the all studied precious metal ions by using the proposed pre-concentration method. Determination of trace levels of the precious metals in the sea-water, anode slime, geological samples and photographic fixer solutions were performed using GFAAS clearly after applying the adsorption-desorption cycle onto the poly(NHMMA-UTU) hydrogels. (c) 2007 Published by Elsevier B.V.