Hydrogels, based on 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propansulfonic acid (AMPS) were synthesized via photopolymerization technique and used for the preparation of magnetic responsive composite hydrogels. These composite hydrogels with magnetic properties were further utilized for the removal of toxic metal ions such as Cd(II), Co(II), Fe(II), Pb(II), Ni(II), Cu(II) and Cr(III) from aqueous environments. It was revealed that hydrogel networks with magnetic properties can effectively be utilized in the removal of pollutants. The results verified that magnetic iron particle containing p(AMPS) hydrogel networks provide advantageous over conventional techniques. Langmuir and Freundlich adsorption isotherms were applied for toxic metal removal and both isotherms were fit reasonably well for the metal ion absorptions. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.