The adsorption behavior of C.I. Reactive Blue 2, C.I. Reactive Red 4, and C.I. Reactive Yellow 2 from aqueous solution onto activated carbon was investigated under various experimental conditions. The adsorption capacity of activated carbon for reactive dyes was found to be relatively high. At pH 7.0 and 298 K, the maximum adsorption capacity for C.I. Reactive Blue 2, C.I. Reactive Yellow 2 and C.I. Reactive Red 4 dyes was found to be 0.27, 0.24, and 0.11 mmol/g, respectively. The shape of the adsorption isotherms indicated an L2-type isotherm according to the Giles and Smith classification. The experimental adsorption data showed good correlation with the Langmuir and Ferundlich isotherm models. Further analysis indicated that the formation of a complete monolayer was not achieved, with the fraction of surface coverage found to be 0.45, 0.42, and 0.22 for C.I. Reactive Blue 2, C.I. Reactive Yellow 2 and C.I. Reactive Red 4 dyes, respectively. Experimental data indicated that the adsorption capacity of activated carbon for the dyes was higher in acidic rather than in basic solutions, and further indicated that the removal of dye increased with increase in the ionic strength of solution, this was attributed to aggregation of reactive dyes in solution. Thermodynamic studies indicated that the adsorption of reactive dyes onto activated carbon was an endothermic process. The adsorption enthalpy (?H) for C.I. Reactive Blue 2 and C.I. Reactive Yellow 2 dyes were calculated at 42.2 and 36.2 kJ/mol, respectively. The negative values of free energy (?G) determined for these systems indicated that adsorption of reactive dyes was spontaneous at the temperatures under investigation (298-328 K). © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.