The relationship between acidity, Cu(II) binding and sorption to XAD resin was examined using Suwannee River fulvic acid (SRFA). The work was based on the hypothesis that fractions of SRFA eluted from an XAD column at various pH's from 1.0 to 12.0 would show systematic variations in acidity and possibly aromaticity which in turn would lead to different Cu(II) binding properties. We measured equilibrium Cu(II) binding to these fractions using Cu2+ ion-selective electrode (ISE) potentiometry at pH 6.0. Several model ligands were also examined, including cyclopentane-1,2,3,4-tetracarboxylic acid (CP-TCA) and tetrahydrofuran-2,3,4,5-tetracarboxylic acid (THF-TCA), the latter binding Cu(II) much more strongly as a consequence of the ether linkage. The SRFA Cu(II) binding properties agreed with previous work at high ionic strength, and binding was enhanced substantially at lower ionic strength, in agreement with Poisson-Boltzmann predictions for small spheres. Determining Cu binding constants (K(i)) by non-linear regression with total ligand concentrations (L(Ti)) taken from previous work, the fractions eluted at varying pH had K(i) similar to the unfractionated SRFA, with a maximum enhancement of 0.50 log units. We conclude that variable-pH elution from XAD does not isolate significantly strong (or weak) Cu(II)-binding components from the SRFA mixture. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.