N,N-Diallyl nicotinamide (DANA) and acrylic acid (AA) were used to react with acrylamide (AM) and synthesize a novel nicotinic acid functionalized water-soluble copolymer AM/AA/DANA by redox free-radical polymerization. Then, the acrylamide/sodium acrylamido methanesulfonate/acrylic acid/N,N-diallyl nicotinamide (AM/AMS/AA/DANA) was obtained by the introduction of the SO3− group into AM/AA/DANA after sulfomethylation. The optimal reaction conditions, such as the monomer ratio, initiator concentration, reaction temperature, and pH of the copolymerization or sulfomethylation, were investigated. Both AM/AA/DANA and AM/AMS/AA/DANA were characterized by IR spectroscopy, 1H-NMR, scanning electron microscopy, and intrinsic viscosity testing. We found that the AM/AMS/AA/DANA had a remarkable temperature tolerance (120°C, viscosity retention rate = 39.8%), shear tolerance (1000 s−1, viscosity retention rate = 23.3%), and salt tolerance (10 g/L NaCl, 1.5 g/L MgCl2, 1.5 g/L CaCl2, viscosity retention rates = 37.4, 27.5, and 21.6%). In addition, the result of the core flood test showed that the about 13.1% oil recovery could be enhanced by 2.0 g/L AM/AMS/AA/DANA at 70°C. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40165.