Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is employed to directly measure colloidal surface forces between a silica particle and a smooth glass plate in an aqueous solution with or without the presence of copper ions. Without the presence of copper ions, results show that the force between these two surfaces is repulsive and that its magnitude decreases with increasing ionic strength and decreasing pH. The surface forces are calculated based on the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory for constant surface charge and are then compared with AFM force measurements. A good agreement between theory and experimental data is reported except at very small separation distances (<3 nm) between the silica particle and the glass plate. This behavior may be attributed to nonDLV0 forces, such as the hydration effect that results from the bounded water molecules on the surface of the silica particle, or to surface roughness. When copper ions are present in acidic aqueous solutions, the magnitude of the force is found to be the same as that without the presence of copper ions, which indicates that no sorption of copper ions by the silica particle occurs under these conditions. Near neutral pH, sorption of copper ions causes charge reversal for the silica particle from negative to positive. Therefore, the force between the silica particle and the glass plate changes from repulsive to attractive. The transient ζ-potential of the silica particle during sorption of copper ions is determined by representing the experimental data with the DLVO theory. In alkaline solutions, where removal of copper ions is known to occur mainly by bulk precipitation, the measured force is similar to that without the presence of copper ions, which suggests that sorption does not occur under such conditions.