Composite proton conducting membranes were prepared by doping the membrane, prepared by crosslinking poly(vinyl alcohol) with sulfosuccinic acid (SSA), with boehmite [aluminum oxyhydroxide or γ-AlO(OH)]. The effect of the SSA and boehmite content on the membrane performance was studied and the results showed that the values for the ion exchange capacity (IEC) of the membranes were in the range of 0.45–4.80 mmol g−1, the water content and the Young's modulus were dependent on the amount of SSA and nanoparticles. The proton conductivity was in the range of 10−4 to 10−2 S cm−1 at 25°C and was directly related to the quantity of sulfonate groups present in the membrane, while the hydrogen permeability at 30°C was in the range of 10−13 to 10−12 mol cm s−1 cm−2 bar. The proton exchange membrane fuel cell tests indicated that the composite membranes have good proton conductivity and very low hydrogen permeability. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40148.