Poly(acrylamide-1-allyl-2-thiourea) hydrogels, Poly(AAm-ATU), were synthesized by gamma irradiation using a (CO)-C-60 gamma source at different irradiation dose rates and in a monomer mixture with different 1-allyl-2-thiourea contents. These hydrogels were used for the specific gold recovery from single and competitive media. It was observed that the gold adsorption capacity onto the hydrogels was high at low pHs and reached a maximum value at pH 0.5. It was found that the adsorption capacity of the hydrogels for gold ions in acidic media around pH 0.5 was high and about 940 mg g(-1) dry hydrogel. Adsorption of these hydrogels for gold ions was found to be very fast and also these hydrogels were showed extremely high selectivity to the gold ions in acidic media even when the concentrations of the other metal ions were extremely higher than that of the gold. Because of the high specificity of these hydrogels to gold ions compared with the other metal ions at low pHs, all matrix effects could be easily eliminated by adsorbing gold ions onto the hydrogels at around pH 0.5 and desorbing into 0.8 M thiourea in 3.0 M HCI. The swellability of the synthesized hydrogels varied with irradiation dose rates and increased at high irradiation dose rates. The minimum swellability of the hydrogels was found to be at least 1000% which made it attractive for gold to penetrate into the hydrogels and react with all the functional groups in the interior surface of the hydrogels. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.