Several commercial wood pulps of different chemical origin and with various lignin content were copolymerized with acrylonitrile using the xanthate grafting process. A number of experiments were carried out to evaluate the effects exerted by the residual lignin and by other wood components on the grafting reaction. The results obtained show that graft copolymers can be prepared in good yields with pulps containing as much as 23% lignin. With the aim to investigate the effect of lignin in more detail, two series of pulps were prepared by delignification of a crude sulfite pulp and a crude Kraft pulp to different levels of lignin content. Sodium chlorite was used as a bleaching agent. Copolymerization results obtained with these pulps indicate some fundamental differences in behavior between sulfite and Kraft pulps. In both cases, the copolymerization is afflicted by a short inhibition period whose duration, however, does not depend on the lignin content in the pulp.