AbstractSorption of metal ions from aqueous solutions to birch wood and spruce heartwood and sapwood has been studied. Functional groups in wood were determined by acid-base titrations. The sorption of metal ions to wood of the different tree species was investigated by a column chromatographic technique. The mechanism of sorption is mainly ion exchange by complexation of metal ions to the functional groups, e.g. carboxyl groups and phenolic hydroxyl groups, in the wood phase. By combination of the sorption experiments with four different metal ion mixtures, the following affinity order was established for spruce sapwood particles: Fe3+>>Pb2+>>Cu2+>>Fe2+>Cd2+>Zn2+>Ni2+>Mn2+≥Ca2+≥Sr2+≥ Ba2+>>Mg2+>>K+>Na+≈Li+. For all three types of stemwood studied, the affinity orders were almost the same. The ion exchange properties of wood were comparable to those of a weakly acid cation exchanger. The affinity order obtained for the synthetic resin was quite similar to the order given above for wood. The metal sorption properties of wood materials imply that they could be a potential material for removal of metal ions from aqueous solutions.