The present paper deals with a complete batch adsorption study of 4-nitrophenol (4NP) from aqueous solution onto activated carbon prepared from Acacia glauca sawdust (AGAC). The surface area of the adsorbent determined by methylene blue method is found to be 311.20 m2/g. The optimum dose of adsorbent was found to be 2 g/l with 4NP uptake of 25.93 mg/g. The equilibrium time was found to be 30 minutes with the percentage removal of 96.40 at the initial concentration of 50 ppm. The maximum removal of 98.94% was found to be at pH of 6. The equilibrium and kinetic study revealed that the Radke–Prausnitz isotherm and pseudo second order kinetics model fitted the respective data well. In the thermodynamic study, the negative value of Gibbs free energy change (−26.38 kJ/mol at 30°C) and enthalpy change (−6.12 kJ/mol) showed the spontaneous and exothermic nature of the adsorption process.