The potential of Fe(II)-activated persulfate (S(2)O(8)(2-)) oxidation on enhancing the dewaterability of sludge flocs from 3-full scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were investigated. Normalized capillary suction time (CST) was applied to evaluate sludge dewaterability. Both extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and metabolic activity of microorganisms were determined to explore the responsible mechanism. Fe(II)-S(2)O(8)(2-) oxidation effectively improved sludge dewaterability. The most important mechanisms were proposed to be the degradation of EPS incorporated in sludge flocs and rupture of microbial cells. Three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectroscopy confirmed that the powerful SO(4)(-) from Fe(II)-S(2)O(8)(2-) system destroyed the particular functional groups of fluorescing substances (i.e., aromatic protein-, tryptophan protein-, humic- and fulvic-like substances) in EPS and caused cleavage of linkages in the polymeric backbone and simultaneous destruction of microbial cells, resulting in the release of EPS-bound water, intracellular materials and water of hydration inside cells, and subsequent enhancement of dewaterability.