In the first step of this study, the metal complexing ligand, 2-methacrylamidophenylalanine (MAPA), was synthesized by using methacrylochloride and phenylalanine. The MAPA monomer was characterized by NMR. Then, poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate -co-2-methacrylamidophenylalanine) [p(HEMA-co-MAPA)] membranes were prepared by UV-initiated photo-polymerization of HEMA and MAPA in the presence of an initiator (azobisisobutyronitrile? AIBN). p(HEMA-co-MAPA) membranes were characterized by FTIR and elemental analysis. These p(HEMA-co-MAPA) affinity membranes with a swelling ratio of 133.2%, and containing 18.9 mmol MAPA/m(2), were used in the adsorprion-desorption of copper(II) ions from synthetic solutions. Adsorption equilibria was reached in about 2 h. The maximum adsorption of Cu(II) ions onto pHEMA was about 0.54 mmol Cu(II)/m(2). The MAPA incorporation significantly increased the Cu(II) adsorption capacity by chelate formation of Cu(II) ions with MAPA molecules (23.8 mmol Cu(II)/m(2)), which was observed at pH 7.0. The chelating membrane can be easily regenerated by 0.1 M HNO3 with higher effectiveness. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.