Abstract A γ-Fe2O3/SiO2/chitosan composite was prepared by water-in-oil emulsification, and characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Effects of various factors, including adsorbent dosage, initial dye concentration, solution pH, and competing anions, on the adsorption of methyl orange from aqueous solutions by the resulting composite were studied by batch adsorption experiments. The adsorption kinetics was found to follow the pseudo-second-order kinetic model, and intraparticle diffusion was related to the adsorption, but not as a sole rate-controlling step. The equilibrium adsorption data were well described by the Freundlich isotherm model. Evaluation of the thermodynamic parameters ΔG°, ΔH°, and ΔS° revealed that the adsorption process was naturally feasible, spontaneous, and exothermic. The composite was proven to be efficient, suitable and promising for the removal of methyl orange from aqueous solutions since it has a relatively higher adsorption capacity than other low-cost adsorbents.