In this study, Fe, Cr and Ni have been preconcentrated and removed by using N,N'-ethylenebis (ethane sulfonamide), (ESEN) ligand on activated carbon (AC) in aqueous solution. For this purpose, complexes between these metals and ligands have been investigated and used in preconcentration and removal studies. Factors which have affected adsorption of metals on activated carbon have been optimized. Adsorbed metals have been preconcentrated 10-fold and determined by ICP-OES. Interferences of Ca, Mg and K to this process have been investigated. The proposed method has been applied to the tap water and Ankara Creek water in order to Fe, Cr, and Ni remediation and preconcentration. Determination of metals by ICP-OES has been checked with standard reference material (NIST 1643e). The proposed method provides the recoveries of 87%, 108% and 106% for Fe, Cr and Ni, respectively, in preconcentration. It also provides the removal of Fe, Cr and Ni by 93%, 100% and 100% removal from waters, respectively. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.