The study describes the removal of fluoride from drinking water using activated alumina (AA). AA was modified with H2SO4, FeCl3 and a combination of the two to enhance fluoride adsorption. The AA adsorbents were characterized using Brunauer–Emmett–Teller surface area analysis and X-ray fluorescence. The maximum adsorption capacity of H2SO4- and FeCl3-modified AA adsorbents was 4.98 mg/g, which is 3.4 times higher compared with that of normal AA. The results showed that the surface area of AA increased when modified with H2SO4. AA modified with FeCl3 enhanced fluoride adsorption ability through ion-exchange between chlorine ions and fluoride ions. The fluoride adsorption properties of AA modified with both H2SO4 and FeCl3 were consistent with the Langmuir model. The fluoride adsorption kinetics of the adsorbents were well described by the pseudo-second-order kinetic model.