Synthesized hydroxyapatite/clay (HA-C) and hydroxyapatite/pumice (HA-P) composites were used for tetracycline (TC) uptake studies from aqueous solution and their uptake capacities were compared. HA-C and HA-P composites were synthesized by precipitation method and the structures of the synthesized composites were characterized by XRD, SEM and BET analyses. Cation exchange capacities of HA-C and HA-P were found to be 84 meq/100 g and 33 meq/100 g, respectively. The TC adsorption using HA-C and HA-P was studied on batch mode. Various parameters such as contact time, solution pH, initial TC concentration, composite dosage, salinity and temperature were optimized. Langmuir, Freundlich and Dubinin-Radushkevich (D-R) isotherm models were applied to the equilibrium data. The maximum adsorption capacity onto HA-C was found to be 76.02 mg/g and about four times larger than the adsorption capacity of the HA-P (17.87 mg/g). The results indicated that the TC uptake onto HA-C and HA-P composites is mainly by a surface complexation and ion-exchange mechanism which depend on the solution pH. The calculated values of thermodynamic parameters indicated that the TC adsorption is favorable, physicochemical in nature. The sorption process follows pseudo-second-order and intraparticle diffusion kinetic models. The TC adsorption mechanism by HA-C and HA-P has been proposed. (C) 2015 The Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.