Abstract The purpose of this present study is to investigate the removal efficiency of chemical oxygen demand (COD) from pulp and paper wastewater using laccase-polymerized membrane filtration process. The membranes with molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) of 5000 and 10,000, 30,000 and 54,000 were used in a cross-flow module to treat the pulp and paper wastewater containing high phenolic constituents and COD. With 2.98 IU/L of activated laccase applied at room temperature for 180 min, the contaminants in raw wastewater and second effluent were polymerized to form larger molecules with average molecular weight of 1300 and 900 Da (Dalton), respectively. With laccase polymerization prior to filtration, over 60% removals of COD by the four investigated membranes were observed, compared with low COD removal without laccase polymerization. Moreover, the addition of laccase resulted in 4–14% reduction of membrane permeability during the first 180 min filtration operation due to gel layer formation by the polymerization. No further flux decline was observed afterwards indicating the steady state was reached and the membranes could be used to remove the polymerized pollutants without significant fouling. The maximum apparent resistance occurrence for raw wastewater treated with laccase also supported the effectiveness for COD removal with laccase polymerization before membrane filtration. Additionally, pretreatment by inactivated laccase only caused further flux reduction without additional removal of COD.