Waste sludge samples from different plants were tested for Cu(II) ion biosorption capacities with and without pre-treatment. Waste sludge from a paint industry wastewater treatment plant was found to perform better than the others after pre-treatment with 1% H2O2. Powdered waste sludge (PWS) from the paint industry wastewater treatment plant was used for recovery of Cu(II) ions from aqueous solution by biosorption after pre-treatment with 1% H2O2. Batch kinetics and isotherms of biosorption of Cu(II) ions were investigated at variable initial Cu(H) concentrations between 50 and 400 mg l(-1) with a PWS particle size of 64 mu m. The pseudo-first and -second order kinetic models were used to correlate the experimental data. The kinetic constants were determined for both models and the second order kinetic model was found to be more suitable. The Langmuir, Freundlich and the generalized isotherm models were used to correlate the equilibrium biosorption data and the isotherm constants were determined. The Langnmir isotherm was found to fit the experimental data better than the other isotherms tested. The maximum biosorption capacity (116 mg g(-1)) of the pre-treated powdered waste sludge for Cu(II) ions was found to be superior as compared to the other biosorbents reported in literature (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.