AbstractLime mud (LM), whose main component is calcium carbonate, is a by-product in the pulp and papermaking industry. For non-wood pulping processes, large amounts of LM are produced every year, and a portion of them has been used as a paper filler. However, LM significantly lowers alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) sizing efficiency when added to paper. In this study, LM slurry was first pre-flocculated using some commonly used wet-end additives; then, the pre-flocculated LM was added to the pulp for handsheet preparation. The effect of LM pre-flocculation on AKD sizing efficiency was investigated by means of Cobb60 value, contact angle, and sizing reversion. Finally, the AKD adsorption, particle size, BET surface area, BJH pore volume, and zeta potential of native and pre-flocculated LM were measured. It was found that handsheets filled with pre-flocculated LM had lower Cobb60 values and larger contact angles compared to handsheets filled with native LM. The sizing reversion was also alleviated to a certain extent. This was probably because the BET surface area and BJH pore volume of pre-flocculated LM were lower than native LM and the zeta potential was higher than native LM, which led to a much less adsorption of AKD. Thus, AKD sizing efficiency was significantly improved.