AbstractA lignosulfonate was prepared from alkali-extracted corn stalk lignin (AEL) by oxidation under mild conditions and sulfomethylation. The oxidized AEL exhibited lower molecular weight, narrower molecular weight distribution, and higher phenolic hydroxyl content than AEL, demonstrating that oxidized AEL was more reactive than those before oxidation. The content of sulfonic groups was significantly increased with the increase in sodium sulphite to AEL ratio, while the content slightly decreased when the ratio was above 1:1. During the sulfomethylation, the content of sulfonic groups increased with time and then achieved a constant level with the increase in time. The content of sulfonic groups reached 1.29 mmol/g, the maximum value, at 5 h and a sodium sulphite to AEL ratio of 1:1. The solubility of AEL was obviously improved by sulfomethylation with the increase in the content of sulfonic groups. The surface activity of AEL was improved after sulfomethylation. The sulfomethylation products exhibited good dispersibility and showed potential for use as a dye dispersant.