The aim of this study is to prepare an ion-imprinted poly(hydroxyethyl methacrylate-N-methacryloyl-(L)-cysteine methyl ester) [PHEMAC] cryogel which can be used to remove Fe3+ ions from beta thalassemia patient plasma in vitro. Fe3+, as a template, was initially complexed with N-methacryloyl-(L)-cysteine methyl ester (MAC) to form the complex monomer MAC-Fe3+ polymerized to constitute a Fe3+ ion-imprinted PHEMAC-Fe3+ cryogel by cryo-polymerization. The template (Fe3+) was removed from the polymer by using 0.1 M EDTA solution. The specific surface area of PHEMAC-Fe3+ cryogel was found to be 32.7 m(2)/g. A maximum Fe3+ adsorption capacity of 75 mu g/g was observed with PHEMAC-Fe3+ cryogel. It was determined that PHEMAC-Fe3+ cryogel possesses high selectivity coefficients for Fe3+/Cd2+ and Fe3+/Ni2+, which are 10.5 and 2.3, respectively, times greater than PHEMAC (non-imprinted cryogel produced in the absence of Fe3+). (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.