The polyethyleneglycolmethacrylate-co-vinylimidazole (PEGMA-VI) copolymers, that can be used in heavy metal removal applications, were synthesized and characterized; and their use as sorbents in heavy metal removal was investigated. It was determined that the ligand vinylimidazole was successfully inserted into the polymer structure. Then, chromium (Cr(VI)) and nickel (Ni(II)) ions were used as model species to investigate the usability of the obtained microspheres in heavy metal removal. The effects of pH of the adsorption medium, initial concentration of the metal ions and VI content of PEGMA-VI microspheres were investigated as the effective parameters on the adsorption capacities of the microspheres. The adsorption rate of the microspheres was also investigated for determination of the optimum adsorption time which is the required time for maximum adsorption capacity. The adsorption capacities under optimum conditions were also determined. The order of adsorption affinities of PEGMA-VI microspheres with respect to the used metals was determined by competitive adsorption studies. According to the obtained results, the highest adsorption affinity of the PEGMA-VI microspheres was towards Cr(VI) ions, the adsorption affinity was less for Ni(II) and the least affinity was towards Cu(II) ions. The adsorption-desorption studies showed that the microspheres were reusable without a significant decrease in the ion adsorption capacities. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.