Raw, dewaxed and oxidized jute fibres and those chemically modified with phenol and formaldehyde (treatment done for 3 h at 95° C and pH 8) before or subsequent to oxidation, were subjected to graft copolymerization with methyl methacrylate (MMA) in the presence or absence of some other monomers such as maleic anhydride (MA) or methacrylic acid (MAA) in limited aqueous system using K2S2O8 as the initiator under photoconditions with the objective of inducing improved rot resistance and dyeability without loss in tensile strength of the fibre. For preparing oxy-jute, dewaxed and preswollen (dewaxed jute fibre swollen with 10% aqueous urea at 90° C for 2h) jute fibre were separately subjected to mild oxidation or bleaching using aqueous H2O2 and NalO4 and non-aqueous chlorine (Cl2 in CCl4) under specified conditions. Optimum conditions for graft copolymerization have been established by examination of the effect of such variables as monomer concentration, time of polymerization and nature of chemical modification of jute fibre prior to vinyl grafting. Percentage grafting, tenacity (g denier-1), dye fixation (%) and rot resistance (expressed as percentage retention of tensile strength of the fibre after a standard soil burial test) were evaluated and analysed. High rot resistance (80-90% retention of tensile strength after soil burial test) and dye fixation (%) of as high as 86% were readily obtained for grafted jute fibres. Washing fastness and light fastness properties of the dyed fibres (grafted and ungrafted) were also examined and compared. © 1989 Chapman and Hall Ltd.