The adsorption of polyvinylimidazole (PVI) onto kaolinite from aqueous solutions has been investigated systematically as a function of parameters such as calcination temperature of kaolinite, pH, ionic strength, and temperature. According to the experimental results, the adsorption of PVI increases with pH from 8.50 to 11.50, temperature from 25 to 55 degrees C, and ionic strength from 0 to 0.1 mol L-1. The kaolinite sample calcined at 600 degrees C has a maximum adsorption capacity. Adsorption isotherms of PVI onto kaolinite have been determined and correlated with common isotherm equations such as Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models. The Langmuir isotherm model appeared to fit the isotherm data better than the Freundlich isotherm model. The physical properties of this adsorbent are consistent with the parameters obtained from the isotherm equations. Furthermore, the zeta potentials of kaolinite suspensions have been measured in aqueous solutions of different PVI concentrations and pH. From the experimental results, (i) pH strongly alters the zeta potential of kaolinite; (ii) kaolinite has an isoelectric point at about pH 2.35 in water and about pH 8.75 in 249.9 ppm PVI concentration; (iii) PVI changes the interface charge from negative to positive for kaolinite. The study of temperature effect has been quantified by calculating various thermodynamic parameters such as Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, and entropy changes. The dimensionless separation factor (R-L) has shown that kaolinite can be used for adsorption of PVI from aqueous solutions. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.