Calcigel bentonite-polyacrylamide (PAA) composites were investigated for their formation characteristics and their macroscopic hydro-mechanical and microscopic structural properties. The composites prepared were different in terms of the polymer charge, i.e. cationic (PAA+), anionic (PAA−), non-ionic (PAA°) and in terms of the polymer-to-clay ratio. The latter varied according to the individual maximum sorption capacity established from adsorption isotherms. Oedometer and waterretention testswere conducted on composites prepared under initial slurry conditions. The microstructure of the composites was investigated using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). At low stress, distinctly increased void ratios were found for all types of the composites, whereas under highstress conditions only the PAA+-composite prepared at 100% of the maximum sorption capacity showed an increase in void ratio. Analyses by ESEM on this composite indicated structural changes related to the preferential face-to-face aggregation, which help to explain the macroscopic behaviour and also account for the increased hydraulic permeabilities observed.