Polyethyleneimine (PEI) microgels were synthesized by micro emulsion polymerization technique and converted to positively charged forms by chemical treatments with various modifying agents with different functional groups, such as 2-bromoethanol (-OH), 4-bromobutyronitrile ( -CN), 2-bromoethylamine hydrobromide (-NH2), and glycidol ( -OH). The functionalization of PEI microgels was confirmed by FT-IR, TGA and zeta potential measurements. Furthermore, a second modification of the modified PEI microgels was induced on 4-bromo butyronitrile-modified PEI microgels (PEI-CN) by amidoximation, to generate new functional groups on the modified PEI microgels. The PEI and modified PEI microgels were also tested for their antimicrobial effects against various bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633, Escherichia coli ATCC 8739 and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25323. Moreover, the PEI-based particles were used for removal of organic dyes such as methyl orange (MO) and congo red (CR). The absorption capacity of PEI-based microgels increased with modification from 101.8 mg/g to 218.8 mg/g with 2-bromoethylamine, 216.2 m/g with 1-bromoethanol, and 224.5 mg/g with 4-bromobutyronitrile for MO. The increase in absorption for CR dyes was from 347.3 mg/g to 390.4 mg/g with 1-bromoethanol, 399.6 mg/g with glycidol, and 349.9 mg/g with 4-bromobutyronitrile. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.