Phosphated zirconium oxide particles loaded with copper ions are a mechanically superior alternative to resin based supports for ligand exchange separations of amino acids. They show good stability under acidic and alkaline conditions and afford different selectivity than resin based exchangers. Acidic amino acids are more strongly retained on this phase than on silica or resin based supports due to interactions with the underlying zirconia surface. These interactions occur despite rigorous phosphation of the zirconia particle. The operational aspects of amino acid separations on this material are examined and compared to conventional resin based models.