Abstract An experimental and theoretical study on the transient adsorption characteristics of porous clay-CaCl2 bed is presented. In the experimental work, the spherical particles of burnt clay of 10 mm average diameter impregnated with liquid CaCl2 desiccant of 0.50 (wt.%) concentration are used as working desiccant in a vertical adsorption column. The bed properties are experimentally estimated. Measurements are made for transient values of exit air relative humidity and temperature. The influence of superficial velocity, inlet humidity ratio and bed height on the adsorption performance is investigated. In the theoretical study, governing equations for heat and mass transfer based on gas side resistance model is used. The numerical results obtained are compared with the results available in literature and the present experimental study.