Influence of wet oxidation on the surface area and the porosity of lignites was investigated using five different Turkish lignites. Lignite samples were oxidised in aqueous medium in a 1 l Parr autoclave at 423 K under 1.5 MPa partial pressure of oxygen for 60 min. Some physical properties such as surface area, bulk density, apparent density, mean pore radius, and porosity of the original and oxidised lignite samples were determined. For this purpose, BET and mercury intrusion porosimetry techniques were performed. In order to examine the effects of oxidation on the functional groups, FT-IR technique was applied for both original and oxidised lignite samples. On the other hand, some inorganic constituents were eliminated from the samples as a result of in situ formation of sulphuric acid from oxidation of sulphur compounds. The changes taken place in the physical properties were studied considering chemical compositions of the samples and the extent of the interaction between the samples and oxygen. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.