A surface treatment was applied to carbon black to improve the electrical and microwave properties of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET)-based composites. Three different formamide solutions with 1, 2, and 3 wt % concentrations were prepared to modify the surface chemistry of carbon black. Microwave properties such as the absorption loss, return loss, insertion loss, and dielectric constant were measured in the frequency range of 812 GHz (X-band range). Composites containing formamide-treated carbon black exhibited enhancements in the electrical conductivity, electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding effectiveness, and dielectric constant values when compared to composites with untreated carbon black. In addition, increases in the formamide solution concentration and carbon black content of composites resulted in an increase in the electrical conductivity, EMI shielding effectiveness, and dielectric constant values. The percolation threshold concentration of PET composites shifted from a 3 to 1.5 wt % carbon black composition with the surface treatment. The best EMI shielding effectiveness was around 27 dB, which was obtained with the composite containing 8 wt % carbon black treated with a 3 wt % formamide solution. Moreover, this composition gave the lowest electrical resistivity and the highest dielectric constant among the produced composites. (C) 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.