A simple, nonhazardous, efficient and low energy-consuming process is desirable to generate powerful radicals from peroxymonosulfate (PMS) for recalcitrant pollutant removal. In this work, the production of radical species from PMS induced by a magnetic CuFe(2)O(4) spinel was studied. Iopromide, a recalcitrant model pollutant, was used to investigate the efficiency of this process. CuFe(2)O(4) showed higher activity and 30 times lower Cu(2+) leaching (1.5 μg L(-1) per 100 mg L(-1)) than a well-crystallized CuO at the same dosage. CuFe(2)O(4) maintained its activity and crystallinity during repeated batch experiments. In comparison, the activity of CuO declined significantly, which was ascribed to the deterioration in its degree of crystallinity. The efficiency of the PMS/CuFe(2)O(4) was highest at neutral pH and decreased at acidic and alkaline pHs. Sulfate radical was the primary radical species responsible for the iopromide degradation. On the basis of the stoichiometry of oxalate degradation in the PMS/CuFe(2)O(4), the radical production yield from PMS was determined to be near 1 mol/mol. The PMS decomposition involved an inner-sphere complexation with the oxide's surface Cu(II) sites. In situ characterization of the oxide surface with ATR-FTIR and Raman during the PMS decomposition suggested that surface Cu(II)-Cu(III)-Cu(II) redox cycle was responsible for the efficient sulfate radical generation from PMS.