The objective of this study was to assess the adsorption potential of a waste mud (WM) for the removal of lead (Pb(II)) ions from aqueous solutions. The WM was activated with NaOH in order to increase its adsorption capacity. Adsorption studies were conducted in a batch system as a function of solution pH, contact time, initial Pb(II) concentration, activated-waste mud (a-WM) concentration, temperature, etc. Optimum pH was specified as 4.0. The adsorption kinetic studies indicated that the overall adsorption process was best described by pseudo-second-order kinetics. The equilibrium adsorption capacity of a-WM was obtained by using Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models and both models fitted well. Adsorption capacity for Pb(II) was found to be 24.4 mg g(-1) for 10 g L-1 of a-WM concentration. Thermodynamic parameters including the Gibbs free energy (Delta G degrees), enthalpy (Delta H degrees), and entropy (AS,) indicated that the adsorption of Pb(II) ions on the a-WM was feasible, spontaneous and endothermic, at temperature range of 0-40 degrees C. Desorption studies were carried out successfully with diluted HCl solutions. The results indicate that a-WM can be used as an effective and no-cost adsorbent for the treatment of industrial wastewaters contaminated with Pb(II) ions. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.