Abstract A series of the exfoliated or intercalated PU/organoclay nanocomposite thin films were prepared by in situ polymerization of polyol/organoclay mixture, chain extender and diisocyanate. The surface mechanical properties of the PU/organoclay nanocomposite films were investigated by means of nanoindentation. The results show that the hardness, elastic modulus and scratch resistant of the nanocomposites dramatically improved with the incorporation of organoclay. This improvement was dependent on the clay content as well as the formation structure of clay in the PU matrix. At 3% clay content, the hardness and elastic modulus of intercalated nanocomposites increased by approximately 16% and 44%, respectively, compare to pure PU. For exfoliated nanocomposite, the improvements in these properties were about 3.5 and 1.6 times higher than the intercalated ones. The exfoliated PU nanocomposites also had greater hardness and showed better scratch resistance compared to the intercalated ones.