Multi-walled carbon nanotube/polyethersulfone (C/P) blend membranes were synthesized via the phase inversion method. The resultant membranes were then characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and contact angle. The C/P blend membranes appeared to be more hydrophilic, with a higher pure water flux than the polyethersulfone (PES) membranes. It was also found that the amount of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) in the blend membranes was an important factor affecting the morphology and permeation properties of the membranes. After 24 h of surface water filtration with 7 mgC/L TOC content, the C/P blend membranes displayed a higher flux and slower fouling rate than the PES membranes. Subsequent analyses of the desorbed foulants showed that the amount of foulant on bare PES membranes was 63% higher than the C/P blend membrane for 2% MWCNTs content. Thus, the carbon nanotube content of the C/P membranes was shown to alleviate the membrane fouling caused by natural water. (c) 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.