Nanotubes (NTs), especially carbon nanotubes (CNTs), have attracted much attention in recent years because of their large specific surface area, and their outstanding mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. In this review we emphasize the development of fascinating properties of polymeric carbohydrate/CNT composites, particularly in terms of their mechanical and conductivity properties and potential applications. Many methods used to modify CNTs during preparation of polymeric carbohydrate/CNT composites are presented. Moreover, we also discuss the enhanced mechanical and electrical effectiveness when hybrid CNTs or halloysite nanotubes were incorporated into different carbohydrate polymer matrices. Finally, we give a future outlook for the development of polymeric carbohydrate/CNT composites as potential alternative materials for various applications including sensors, electroactive paper, electrodes, sorbents for environmental remediation, packaging film, specialty textile, and biomedical devices. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40359.