We report a systematic study of the crystallization and rheological behavior of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO)-clay nanocomposites. To that end a series of nanocomposites based on PEOs of different molecular weight (103 < MW < 105 g/mol) and clay surface modifier was synthesized and characterized. Incorporation of organoclays with polar (MMT-OH) or aromatic groups (MMT-Ar) suppresses the crystallization of polymer chains in low MW PEO, but does not significantly affect the crystallization of high MW matrices. In addition, the relative complex viscosity of the nanocomposites based on low MW PEO increases significantly, but the effect is less pronounced at higher MWs. The viscosity increases in the series MMT-Alk < MMT-OH < MMT-Ar. In contrast to the neat PEO which exhibits a monotonic decrease of viscosity with temperature, all nanocomposites show an increase after a certain temperature. This is the first report of such dramatic enhancements in the viscoelasticity of nanocomposites, which are reversible, are based on a simple polymer matrix and are true in a wide temperature range. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.