Abstract A novel approach to prepare activated carbon from blue-green algal bloom residue has been tried for first time and its adsorption capability to remove hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) from aqueous solution has been examined. For this algal bloom residue derived activated carbon, the physical characters regarding adsorption capability were analyzed by scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscope (EDS) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Batch studies showed that initial pH, absorbent dosage, and initial concentration of Cr(VI) were important parameters for Cr(VI) absorption. It was found that initial pH of 1.0 was most favorable for Cr(VI) removal. The adsorption process followed the pseudo-second-order equation and Freundlich isotherm. The maximum adsorption capacity for Cr(VI) was 155.52 mg g −1 in an acidic medium, which is comparable to best result from activated carbons derived from biomass. Therefore, this work put forward a nearly perfect solution which on one hand gets rid of environment-unfriendly algae residue while on the other hand produces high-quality activated carbon that is in return advantageous to environment protection.