In the present work, ion exchange resin based on hydroxyethyl cellulose has been synthesized to remove the heavy metals, such as iron, cobalt, copper, and zinc from their aqueous solutions. The conditions in the column and batch modes were investigated for this purpose. The resin, having an average swelling percentage of 75.94 and an exchange capacity of 2.57 meq g(-1) resin, is being introduced as a new ion exchange resin in the heavy metal removal process. An investigation of the column operations using aqueous solutions of heavy metal ions indicated that the resin prepared has some advantages, including high total exchange capacity and good chemical stability. (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.