Granular activated carbon with silver loaded as activator (Ag/GAC) was prepared using impregnation method. N2 adsorption, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) were adopted to characterize the Ag/GAC, showing that silver was successfully loaded on granular activated carbon. The oxidation degradation of acid orange 7 (AO7) by the Ag/GAC activated by persulfate (PS) was investigated at ambient temperature. The influences of factors such as Ag loading, PS or Ag/GAC dosages and initial pH on the degradation of AO7 were evaluated. The results demonstrated that the degradation rate of AO7 could reach more than 95.0% after 180 min when the Ag loading content, PS/AO7 molar ratio, the Ag/GAC dosage were 12.7 mg x g(-1), 120: 1, 1.0 g x L(-1), respectively. The initial pH had significant effect on the AO7 degradation, with pH 5.0 as the optimal pH for the degradation of AO7. The possible degradation pathway was proposed for the AO7 degradation by using UV-visible spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GG/MS). The azo bond and naphthalene ring in the AO7 were destroyed during the degradation, with phthalic acid and acetophenone as the main degradation products.