In this study, the ability of surfactant-modified zeolite (SMZ) to remove color from real textile wastewater was investigated. Tests were performed in a fixed-bed column reactor and the surface of natural zeolite was modified with a quaternary amine surfactant hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HTAB). The zeolite bed that was modified at 1 g L-1 HTAB concentration and HTAB flow rate of 0.015 L min(-1) showed good performance in removing color. Effects of wastewater color intensity, flow rates and bed heights were also studied. Wastewater was diluted several times in the ratios of 25%, 50% and 75% in order to assess the influence of wastewater strength. The breakthrough curves of the original and diluted wastewaters are dispersed due to the fact that breakthrough came late at lower color intensities and saturation of the bed appeared faster at higher color intensities. The column had a 3-cm diameter and four different bed heights of 12.5, 25, 37.5 and 50 cm, which treated 5.25, 19.50, 35.25 and 51 L original textile wastewater, respectively, at the breakthrough time at a flow rate of 0.025 L min(-1). The theoretical service times evaluated from bed depth service time (BDST) approach for different column variables. The calculated and theoretical values of the exchange zone height were found with a difference of 27%. The various design parameters obtained from fixed-bed experimental studies showed good correlation with corresponding theoretical values, under different bed heights. The regeneration of the SMZ was also evaluated using a solution consisting of 30 g L-1 NaCl and 1.5 g L-1 NaOH at pH 12 and temperature 30 C. Twice-regenerated SMZ showed the best performance compared with the others while first- and thrice-regenerated perform lower than the original SMZ. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.