Short activated carbon fibers (ACF) with high surface area were fabricated via carbonization in N-2 and activation in CO2 at high temperatures, with cellulose fibers as the raw materials. The obtained ACF were subsequently deposited into the support layer of a polyethersulfone (PES) ultrafiltration membrane by a facile filtration process to obtain the sandwich structured ACF-PES composite membrane. The hormone (17 beta-estradiol, E2) adsorption kinetics and isotherm of ACF in static conditions, as well as E2 removal by filtration with the ACF-PES composite membrane were investigated. In static conditions, ACF rapidly and efficiently adsorbs E2 evidenced by a high removal of > 97 %. The fitting of second order kinetics and linear (Henry) adsorption isotherm models indicated the availability of easily accessible adsorption sites. Besides, such efficient E2 adsorption was contributed by many interactions between E2 and ACF, namely hydrophobic interactions, hydrogen bonding and pp stacking. The incorporation of ACF in a PES membrane resulted in a minor loss of filtration flux compared with the control membrane, but significantly improved E2 removal through adsorption pathway. With only 1.0 mg ACF incorporated (loading 2.0 g/m(2)), the composite membrane could reject 76 % of E2 from a 100 ng/L solution at a flux of 450 L/m(2).h, demonstrating that ACF-PES can overcome the permeability-selectivity trade-off of traditional UF membranes.