Abstract In this work, the effects of the as-produced GO and silane functionalized GO (silane-f-GO) loading and silane functionalization on the mechanical properties of the composites are investigated and compared. Such silane functionalization containing epoxy ended-groups is found to effectively improve the compatibility between the silane-f-GO and the epoxy matrix. Increased storage modulus, glass transition temperature, thermal stability, tensile and flexural properties and fracture toughness of epoxy composites filled with the silane-f-GO sheets are observed compared with those of the neat epoxy and GO/epoxy composites. These findings confirm the improved dispersion and interfacial interaction in the composites arising from covalent bonds between the silane-f-GO and the epoxy matrix. Moreover, several possible fracture mechanisms, i.e. crack pinning/deflection, crack bridging, and matrix plastic deformation initiated by the debonding/delamination of GO sheets, were identified and evaluated.