The influence of permeate flux on bacterial adhesion to NF and RO membranes was examined using two model Pseudomonas species, namely Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas putida. To better understand the initial biofouling profile during NF/RO processes, deposition experiments were conducted in cross flow under permeate flux varying from 0.5 up to 120 L/(h m2), using six NF and RO membranes each having different surface properties. All experiments were performed at a Reynolds number of 579. Complementary adhesion experiments were performed using Pseudomonas cells grown to early-, mid- and late-exponential growth phases to evaluate the effect of bacterial cell surface properties during cell adhesion under permeate flux conditions. Results from this study show that initial bacterial adhesion is strongly dependent on the permeate flux conditions, where increased adhesion was obtained with increased permeate flux, until a maximum of 40% coverage was reached. Membrane surface properties or bacterial growth stages was further found to have little impact on bacterial adhesion to NF and RO membrane surfaces under the conditions tested. These results emphasise the importance of conducting adhesion and biofouling experiments under realistic permeate flux conditions, and raises questions about the efficacy of the methods for the evaluation of antifouling membranes in which bacterial adhesion is commonly assessed under zero-flux or low flux conditions, unrepresentative of full-scale NF/RO processes.