Abstract The Rice shell was used as a low cost adsorbent to produce activated carbon (AC) for the removal of sulfamethoxazole (SMZ) from aqueous solution at batch systems. Equilibrium data were fitted to Langmuir, Freundlich, Redlich–Peterson and Sips isotherms. The equilibrium data were best represented by the Langmuir isotherm. maximum monolayer capacity of AC obtained from Langmuir is 78.25 mg/g. The adsorption kinetics was found to be best represented by Pseudo second order kinetic model. Equilibrium and Kinetic Studies further supported by the error analysis functions (ARE, EABS, X2 and MSDP), where the pseudo secend order Kinetic and Langmuir isotherms has the smallest values. The results indicate that the Rice shell-based activated carbon is a promising low cost technology adsorbent for the removal of antibiotics.