New inorganic ion exchangers based on double Mg-Al hydrous oxides were generated via the new non-traditional sol-gel synthesis method which avoids using metal alkoxides as raw materials. Surface chemical and adsorptive properties of the final products were controlled by several ways of hydrogels and xerogels treatments which produced the materials of the layered structure, mixed hydrous oxides or amorphous adsorbents. The final adsorptive materials obtained via thermal treatment of xerogels were the layered mesoporous materials with carbonate in the interlayer space, surface abundance with hydroxylic groups and maximum adsorptive capacity to arsenate. Higher affinity of Mg-Al hydrous oxides towards H2AsO4- is confirmed by steep adsorption isotherms having plateau (removal capacity) at 220. mg[As]. gdw-1 for the best sample at pH = 7, fast adsorption kinetics and little pH effect. Adsorption of arsenite, fluoride, bromate, bromide, selenate, borate by Mg-Al hydrous oxides was few times high either competitive (depending on the anion) as compare with the conventional inorganic ion exchange adsorbents. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.