Performance of continuous polymer enhanced ultrafiltration (PEUF) method was investigated for removal of mercury and cadmium from binary mixtures. This method includes the addition of polyethyleneimine (PEI) as a water soluble polymer to bind the metals, which was followed by ultrafiltration operation performed on both laboratory and pilot scale systems. The influence of various operating parameters such as temperature, metal/polymer ratio, presence of calcium ions and pH on retention of metals and permeate flux was investigated. To investigate the possibility of selective separation of mercury and cadmium, experiments were conducted for binary solutions at different pH and loading ratios. It was seen that the retention of mercury decreased and permeate flux increased when the temperature increased. The increased pH and decreased metal/ polymer ratio, loading (L), resulted in higher retention of both metals. Shapes of retention vs. pH or L curves were very similar for both metals. Retentions stay almost constant at a value very close to unity until a critical L or pH value was reached, then, R decreases almost linearly with L or pH. However, retention of cadmium was affected more than that of mercury as the pH decreased and L increased. This leads to the selective separation of mercury and cadmium. At low pH values (about 5) and at high L values (about 0.3), mercury was removed by ultrafiltration operation while almost all cadmium passed through the membrane. At pH 5.5 and cadmium/polymer ratio about 0.35 and mercury/polymer ratio about 0.39, the highest separation factor was obtained as 49. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.