Grafting of itaconic acid (IA) was achieved onto sodium alginate (NaAlg) membranes by using UV-radiation. Process was performed under nitrogen atmosphere and benzophenone (BP) was used as a photoinitiator. Membranes were preswelled before the polymerization process and ethanol was determined as the best swelling agent among the studied solvents. The effect of polymerization time, initiator and monomer concentrations on the grafting efficiency were investigated. The best conditions for optimum grafting were obtained with IA concentration of 1.0 M, a BP concentration of 0.1 M and a reaction time of 4 h at 25 degrees C. Under these conditions grafting efficiency for NaAlg-g-IA membranes was found to be 14% (w/w). To obtain further increase in grafting efficiency membranes were also preswelled in IA and BP solutions and polymerization was carried out at different temperatures after UV polymerization. Grafted membranes were characterized by using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Effect of grafting on membrane properties such as intrinsic viscosity and swelling percentage were also determined. (C) 2011 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.