Abstract Textural characterization of activated carbons prepared from palm shell by thermal activation with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is reported in this paper. Palm shell (endocarp) is an abundant agricultural solid waste from palm-oil processing mills in many tropical countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The effects of activation temperature on the textural properties of the palm-shell activated carbons, namely specific surface area (BET method), porosity, and microporosity, were investigated. The activated carbons prepared from palm shell possessed well-developed porosity, predominantly microporosity, leading to potential applications in gas-phase adsorption for air pollution control. Static and dynamic adsorption tests for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a common gaseous pollutant, were carried out in a thermogravimetric analyzer and a packed column configuration respectively. The effects of adsorption temperature, adsorbate inlet concentration, and adsorbate superficial velocity on the adsorptive performance of the prepared activated carbons were studied. The palm-shell activated carbon was found to have substantial capability for the adsorption of SO2, comparable to those of some commercial products and an adsorbent derived from another biomass.