Abstract A pilot study has been performed to investigate the seasonal characteristic of seawater reverse osmosis (RO) membrane fouling. Two batches of experiment during summer and winter were both performed 18 days to provide a clear picture on microbial population variability. The feed water of the pilot from seawater desalination plant has significant difference in temperature and silica content between the two seasons. In our experiments, scaling and biofouling are more serious in summer. And the permeate flux decline is closely related to the rise in microbial population, and it was dominated by cell multiplication rather than adhesion. In addition, the summer cell multiplication is much more abundant. Moreover, the extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) feature intensity detected by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy was also stronger in summer. The abundant EPS was one of the major reasons to cause the inorganic matter adsorption. Si, Al, Fe, Ca and Mg were found as the major inorganic foulants deposited on the Ro membranes. Silica and calcium in summer appeared obvious higher amounts than that in winter, which indicated that they should be affected by microbial action directly or indirectly more than other elements. In summary, there exists a seasonal effect on membrane scaling and fouling, and scaling is associated with biofouling in some degree. Further researches could be focus on actual association between microbial action and inorganic fouling.