A nerve conduit is designed to improve peripheral nerve regeneration by providing guidance to the nerve cells. Conductivity of such guides is reported to enhance this process. In the current study, a nerve guide was constructed from poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA), which was loaded with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (mwCNT) to introduce conductivity. PHEMA hydrogels were designed to have a porous structure to facilitate the transportation of the compounds needed for cell nutrition and growth and also for waste removal. We showed that when loaded with relatively high concentrations of mwCNTs (6%, w/w in hydrogels), the pHEMA guide was more conductive and more hydrophobic than pristine pHEMA hydrogel. The mechanical properties of the composites were better when they carried mwCNT. Elastic modulus of 6% mwCNT loaded pHEMA was twofold higher (0.32 +/- 0.06 MPa) and similar to that of the soft tissues. Electrical conductivity was significantly improved (11.4-fold) from 7 x 10(-3) (-1).cm(-1) (pHEMA) to 8.0 x 10(-2) (-1).cm(-1) (6% mwCNT loaded pHEMA). On application of electrical potential, the SHSY5Y neuroblastoma cells seeded on mwCNTs carrying pHEMA maintained their viability, whereas those on pure pHEMA could not, indicating that mwCNT helped conduct electricity and make them more suitable as nerve conduits. (c) 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 828-841, 2014.