Casein is well known as a good protein emulsifier and beta-casein is the major component of casein and commercial sodium caseinate. Dye affinity adsorption is increasingly used for protein separation. beta-Casein adsorption onto Reactive Red 120 attached magnetic poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (m-PHEMA) beads was investigated in this work. m-PHEMA beads (80-120 pm in diameter) were produced by dispersion polymerization. The dichlorotriazine dye Reactive Red 120 was attached covalently as a ligand. The dye attached beads, having a swelling ratio of 55% (w/w) and carrying different amounts of Reactive Red 120 (9.2 [mu mol-g(-1) -39.8 mu mol center dot g(-1)) were used in beta-casein adsorption studies. The effects of the initial concentration, pH, ionic strength and temperature on the adsorption efficiency of dye attached beads were studied in a batch reactor. The non-specific adsorption on the m-PHEMA beads was 1.4 mg-g(-1). Reactive Red 120 attachment significantly increased the beta-casein adsorption up to 37.3 mg-g(-1). More than 95.4% of the adsorbed beta-casein was desorbed in 1 h in a desorption medium containing 1.0 m KSCN at pH 8.0. We concluded that Reactive Red 120 attached m-PHEMA beads can be applied for beta-casein adsorption without significant losses in the adsorption capacities.