Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are of interest in many areas of nanotechnology and used in a number of novel applications. However effective dispersion remains a problem and one solution is to functionalize the nanotubes. Any functionalization that is undertaken must preferably not influence other key properties such as strength and electrical conductivity. In this work, multi-walled CNTs are functionalized for comparison, using a range of oxidative techniques, including thermal treatment, acid reflux, and dry UV-ozonolysis. The effects of these treatments on the multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and their electrical properties were characterized using a range of surface and compositional techniques. The electrical conductivity of MWCNTs was found to increase with functionalization in all cases, and dry UV-ozonolysis was shown to be the treatment technique which best increased conductivity, whilst at the same time maintaining the structural integrity of the nanotubes, even though the level of modification was less than by the other treatment methods. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.