This study aimed to remove phenolic and lignin compounds from paper mill industry (4500 m(3)/h) wastewaters, which is discharged to sea from a plant located in the western Turkey. As adsorbent, fly ash, raw sepiolite and heat-activated sepiolite were used. The effect of factors such as, particle size, temperature and pH on adsorption process was investigated. From kinetic studies, equilibrium time was found as 1 h for both. The kinetic data supports pseudo-second order model but shows very poor fit for pseudo-first order model. Intraparticle model also shows that there are two separate stages in sorption process, namely, external diffusion and pore diffusion. Adsorption isotherms for fly ash and activated sepiolite were obtained at two different temperatures. From experiments carried out at different pHs, it was observed that pH plays an important role in the adsorption process in removing of both lignin and phenolic compounds, providing both ionizating the compounds and modifying sorbent surfaces. It was also observed that heat-activated sepiolite is more effective than raw sepiolite and fly ash to remove these compounds. Adsorption of lignin and phenolic compounds increases with decreasing particle size. In addition, the efficiency of adsorption decreases with increasing adsorption temperature for both fly ash and untreated sepiolite.