Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is a known complexing agent that interacts with a host of cations. In this paper, various techniques are used to elucidate the mechanism of interaction between EDTA and barium sulfate Surfaces. It is shown that complexation with metal ions is not sufficient to explain the inhibition of barite crystallization but that other processes such as chemisorption must also occur. EDTA is shown to always adsorb as the mono-protonated species-suggesting that the molecule is able to lose a proton when it adsorbs at lower pH. Molecular modelling shows that the interaction of the surface barium ions with the carboxylate group is an important one. Finally, in situ turbidity measurements provide information about the mechanism of nucleation/growth modification. It is found that the EDTA molecule inhibits barium sulfate nucleation and that this could be its primary means of inhibiting precipitation of barium sulfate. Crown Copyright (C) 2007 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.