The fabrication and electromechanical performance of functionalized carbon nanotube (FCNT)-Nafion composite actuators were studied. The CNTs were modified successfully with polyethylene glycol (PEG), as verified by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images show that the FCNTs are homogeneously dispersed in the Nafion matrix. The properties of FCNT-Nafion composites in terms of water uptake, ion exchange capacity, proton conductivity, dynamic mechanical properties, and actuation behavior were evaluated. The results show that the sample with 0.5 wt% FCNT exhibits the best overall behavior. Its storage modulus is 2.4 times higher than that of Nafion. In addition, the maximum generated strain and the blocking force for the same sample are 2 and 2.4 times higher compared to the neat Nafion actuator, respectively. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.