A comparative study using bentonite (BT), hexadecyltrimethylammonium-modified bentonite (BT-HDTMA) and phenyl fatty hydroxamic acid-modified bentonite (BT-PFHA) as adsorbents for the removal of Pb(II) has been proposed. These adsorbents were characterized by X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and surface area measurement. Cation exchange capacity was also determined in this study. The adsorbent capabilities for Pb(II) from aqueous solution were investigated, and the optimal experimental conditions including adsorption time, adsorbent dosage, the initial concentration of Pb(II), pH and temperature that might influence the adsorption performance were also investigated. The experimental equilibrium adsorption data were tested by four widely used two-parameter equations, the Langmuir, Freundlich, Dubinin-Radushkevich (D-R) and Temkin isotherms. The monolayer adsorption capacities of BT, BT-HDTMA and BT-PFHA for Pb(II) were 149.3, 227.3 and 256.4 mg/g, respectively. The experimental kinetic data were analysed by pseudo-first order, pseudo-second order and intraparticle diffusion kinetics models. The experimental data fitted very well with the pseudo-second order kinetic model. Determination of the thermodynamic parameters, ΔG, ΔH and ΔS showed the adsorption to be feasible, spontaneous and exothermic.