The oxidative removal of natural organic matter (NOM) from waters using hydrogen peroxide and iron-coated pumice particles as heterogeneous catalysts was investigated. Two NOM sources were tested: humic acid solution and a natural source water. Iron coated pumice removed about half of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration at a dose of 3000 mg 1(-1) in 24 h by adsorption only. Original pumice and peroxide dosed together provided UV absorbance reductions as high as 49%, mainly due to the presence of metal oxides including Al2O3, Fe2O3 and TiO2 in the natural pumice, which are known to catalyze the decomposition of peroxide forming strong oxidants. Coating the original pumice particles with iron oxides significantly enhanced the removal of NOM with peroxide. A strong linear correlation was found between iron contents of coated pumices and UV absorbance reductions. Peroxide consumption also correlated with UV absorbance reduction. Control experiments proved the effective coating and the stability of iron oxide species bound on pumice surfaces. Results overall indicated that in addition to adsorptive removal of NOM by metal oxides on pumice surfaces, surface reactions between iron oxides and peroxide result in the formation of strong oxidants, probably like hydroxyl radicals, which further oxidize both adsorbed NOM and remaining NOM in solution, similar to those in Fenton-like reactions. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.