Abstract Chromatographic columns packed with commercially available hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) media were found to be able to suppress aggregation and nevertheless had a tendency to promote the structural misfolding resulting in higher soluble protein recovery and lower specific activity than that by dilution when they were used to refold lysozyme, a model protein. Moreover, this misfolding effect was exacerbated with increasing hydrophobicity of media. A novel strategy involving the combination of glycerol, a typical osmolyte, a urea gradient and commercially available HIC media was introduced to facilitate protein refolding correctly as well as improve mass recovery by providing a gradual change of the refolding environment in the HIC column. In this process, unfolded lysozyme was bound to Poros PE HIC column at high salt concentration and was released by a urea gradient followed by elution with refolding buffer in the presence of 50 % (v/v) glycerol, resulting in 86.3% activity yield and 85% mass recovery with the refolded product of native specific activity. For the absence of glycerol, only 50.9% activity yield and 59% specific activity recovery was obtained although mass recovery was closed to that in the presence of glycerol. It was also discovered that glycerol addition during elution process was necessary for correct refolding compared to mixing of glycerol with post-column fraction. The possible mechanism for refolding with this system was proposed to be relevant to the formation of an on-pathway intermediate that could slowly reactivate.