The radio frequency (RF) plasma-modified surfaces of kaolinite were investigated by diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFT) and deuteration techniques to determine the nature of RF plasma-induced surface functional groups, the altered sites in the lattice, and interaction mechanism between RF plasma and the surface of the kaolinite. It has been concluded that the RF plasma-induced infrared (IR) vibration absorption bands at 2805, 3010, and 3100 cm(-1) are attributable to the stretching vibration of hydrogen-bonded hydroxyl groups, and the band at 1407 cm(-1) is attributable to the bending vibration of (HO-)Al-O or (HO-)Si-O groupings with hydrogen-bonded hydroxyl groups. Structural alteration occurred on both the surface and subsurface region of the kaolinite during RF plasma treatment. Further structural alteration or adjustment was also observed on well-modified and well-deuterated kaolinite. There are two types of OD bands visible in the DRIFT spectra of this kaolinite, one type which decreased rapidly as a function of time in moist air, and the other which remained unchanged during the measurement. Furthermore, the appearance of broad IR bands at 3500-3100 cm(-1) as a result of deuteration is evidence of structural disturbance by RF plasma treatment lattice deuteration. An RF plasma-induced hydrogen bonding model on the surface of the kaolinite is proposed.