The improvement of the mechanical properties of carbon nanotube reinforced polycrystalline yttria-stabilized zirconia (CNT-YSZ) was questionable in earlier investigations due to several difficulties for processing of these composites. In the present article, the authors are proposing a successful technique for mixing pre-dispersed CNTs within YSZ particles followed by a fast spark plasma sintering at relatively low temperature, resulting in near full-dense structure with well-distributed CNTs. Composites with CNT quantities ranging within 0.5-5 wt% have been analyzed and a significant improvement in mechanical properties, i.e. Young's modulus, indentation hardness and fracture toughness with respect to monolithic YSZ could be observed. To support these interesting mechanical properties, high-resolution electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy measurements have been carried out. The analysis of densification shows that the lower densification rate of CNT reinforced composites with respect to the pure YSZ could be attributed to a slower grain boundary sliding or migration during sintering. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.