Deposition of microspheres mimicking bacterial cells was studied experimentally and with a numerical model in feed spacer membrane channels, as used in spiral wound nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membrane systems. In-situ microscopic observations in membrane fouling simulators revealed formation of specific particle deposition patterns for different diamond and ladder feed spacer orientations. A three-dimensional numerical model combining fluid flow with a Lagrangian approach for particle trajectory calculations could describe very well the in-situ observations on particle deposition in flow cells. Feed spacer geometry, positioning and cross-flow velocity sensitively influenced the particle transport and deposition patterns. The deposition patterns were not influenced by permeate production. This combined experimental-modeling approach could be used for feed spacer geometry optimization studies for reduced (bio)fouling. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.