AbstractMaleic anhydride-acylated chitosan (MAAC) was prepared and employed to improve the wet strength of handsheets. UV-Vis spectroscopy, elemental analysis, and chemical titration methods were used to analyze the resultant MAAC. Pretreatment and curing conditions were investigated when MAAC was used to improve the wet strength of handsheets. The results revealed that the wet strength performance was highest at a pretreatment pH of 6 and that the wet strength index and the ratio of wet to dry strength increased with increasing pretreatment temperature and MAAC dose. A higher curing temperature was beneficial and improved the wet strength performance of paper. Polyamideamine-epichlorohydrin (PAE) resin performed better than MAAC with varied soaking durations. However, MAAC also reached about 80% of the wet strength of PAE and showed its potential as an alternative to PAE.