Pyrene removal by polycation-montmorillonite (MMT) composites and granulated activated carbon (GAC) in the presence of humic acid (HA) was examined. Pyrene, HA, and sorbent interactions were characterized by FTIR, fluorescence and zeta measurements, adsorption, and column filtration experiments. Pyrene binding coefficients to the macromolecules were in the order of PVPcoS (poly-4-vinylpiridine-co-styrene) > HA > PDADMAC (poly diallyl-dimethyl-ammonium-chloride), correlating to pyrene-macromolecules compatibility. Electrostatic interactions explained the high adsorption of HA to both composites (∼100%), whereas HA adsorption by GAC was low. Pyrene removal by the composites, unlike GAC, was enhanced in the presence of HA; removal by PDADMAC-MMT increased from ∼50 (kd = 2.2 x 10 3 kg/L) to ∼70% (kd = 2.4 x 103 kg/L) in the presence of HA. This improvement was attributed to the adsorption of pyrene-HA complexes. PVPcoS-MMT was most efficient in removing pyrene (k d = 1.1 x 104 kg/L, >95% removal) which was explained in terms of specific π donor-π acceptor interactions. Pyrene uptake by column filters of GAC reached ∼50% and decreased to ∼30% in the presence of HA. Pyrene removal by the PVPcoS-MMT filter was significantly higher (100-85% removal), exhibiting only a small decrease in the presence of HA. The utilization of HA as an enhancing agent in pollutant removal is novel and of major importance in water treatment.