Biodegradable viscoelastic poly(ester urethane)-based scaffolds show great promise for tissue engineering. In this study, the preparation of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles (nHA)/poly(ester urethane) composite scaffolds using a salt-leaching-phase inverse process is reported. The dispersion of nHA microaggregates in the polymer matrix were imaged by microcomputed X-ray tomography, allowing a study of the effect of the nHA mass fraction and process parameters on the inorganic phase dispersion, and ultimately the optimization of the preparation method. How the composite scaffold's geometry and mechanical properties change with the nHA mass fraction and the process parameters were assessed. Increasing the amount of nHA particles in the composite scaffold decreased the porosity, increased the wall thickness and consequently decreased the pore size. The Young's modulus of the poly(ester urethane) scaffold was improved by 50% by addition of 10 wt.0% nHA (from 0.95 +/- 0.5 to 1.26 +/- 0.4 MPa), while conserving poly(ester urethane) viscoelastic properties and without significant changes in the scaffold macrostructure. Moreover, the process permitted the inclusion of nHA particles not only in the poly(ester urethane) matrix, but also at the surface of the scaffold pores, as shown by scanning electron microscopy. nHA/poly(ester urethane) composite scaffolds have great potential as osteoconductive constructs for bone tissue engineering. (C) 2009 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.