A finite element scheme to compute the dynamics of insoluble surfactant on a deforming free surface is presented. The free surface is tracked by the arbitrary Lagrangian–Eulerian (ALE) approach, whereas the surfactant concentration transport equation is approximated in a Lagrangian manner. Since boundary resolved moving meshes are used in the ALE approach, the surface tension, which may be a linear or nonlinear function of surfactant concentration (equation of state), and the Marangoni forces can be incorporated directly into the numerical scheme. Further, the Laplace–Beltrami operator technique, which reduces one order of differentiation associated with the curvature, is used to handle the curvature approximation. A number of 3D-axisymmetric computations are performed to validate the proposed numerical scheme. An excellent surfactant mass conservation without any additional mass correction scheme is obtained. The differences in using a linear and a nonlinear equation of state, respectively, on the flow dynamics of a freely oscillating droplet are demonstrated. 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.