The objective of the present study is to develop a nitrogen-selected adsorbent (NSA) from coal with high performance for selective adsorption and separation of the nitrogen compounds from liquid hydrocarbon streams for producing ultra clean fuels. The effects of coal ranks, activation methods, and activation agents on the adsorption performance of NSAs were examined. The NSAs were evaluated in the batch and flow adsorption systems by using both a model fuel and a real coal-derived distillate, and compared with the best commercial activated carbons tested in our laboratory. The physiochemical properties of the adsorbents were further characterized by N2 adsorption and temperature-programmed desorption (TPD), and correlated with their adsorption performance. It was found that the chemical activation of a lignite coal with NaOH or H3PO4 as an activating agent can produce an excellent NSA for removing the nitrogen compounds from the liquid hydrocarbon streams. The prepared NSAs have much higher capacity and selectivity than the best commercial activated carbon. The better performance of the NSAs can be attributed to their higher oxygen-containing functional groups on the surface.