In the present study, the treatability of a metal plating wastewater containing complexed metals originating from the nickel and zinc plating process by electrocoagulation using stainless steel electrodes was experimentally investigated. The study focused on the effect of important operation parameters on electrocoagulation process performance in terms of organic complex former, nickel and zinc removals as well as sludge production and specific energy consumption. The results indicated that increasing the applied current density from 2.25 to 9.0 mA/cm(2) appreciably enhanced TOC removal efficiency from 20% to 66%, but a further increase in the applied current density to 56.25 mA/cm2 did not accelerate TOC removal rates. Electrolyte concentration did not affect the process performance significantly and the highest TOC reduction (66%) accompanied with complete heavy metal removals were achieved at the original chloride content (approximate to 1500 mg Cl/L) of the wastewater sample. Nickel removal performance was adversely affected by the decrease of initial pH from its original value of 6. Optimum working conditions for electrocoagulation of metal plating effluent were established as follows: an applied current density of 9 mA/cm(2), the effluent's original electrolyte concentration and pH of the composite sample. TOC removal rates obtained for all electrocoagulation runs fitted pseudo-first-order kinetics very well (R(2) > 92-99). (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.