Nanocomposites of bisphenol A polycarbonate with 2, 4, 6, and 15 wt% multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and their use in fire retardancy are investigated. Their thermal behavior and pyrolysis are characterized using thermogravimetry, differential scanning calorimeter, oscillatory shear rheology, and dynamic mechanical analysis. The flammability is addressed using LOI and UL 94; the fire behavior, with a cone calorimeter using different irradiation. With increasing MWNT content the storage modulus is increased (10–20%) and melt viscosity increases by several orders of magnitude, particularly for low shear rates. The melt flow, dripping, and deformation during fire are hindered, which influences UL 94 and cone calorimeter results. The peak heat release rate is reduced up to 40–50% due to an improved barrier for small amounts (2 wt%) of MWNT and for low irradiation, whereas the effect is reduced for increasing irradiation and nearly vanishes for increasing filling. Adjuvant but also deleterious mechanisms result in the complex dependency on the MWNT content. Significant flame retardancy effects are specific and limited to only some fire properties. This study allows the materials' potential for implementation in different fire scenarios and tests to be assessed and provides insight into active mechanisms. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 48:149–158, 2008. © 2007 Society of Plastics Engineers