Colloidal silica nanoparticles (NPs) modified with eight different silane coupling agents were incorporated into an amorphous poly(tetramethylene oxide)-based polyurethane-urea copolymer matrix at a concentration of 10 wt % (4.4 vol %) in order to investigate the effect of their surface chemistry on the structure-property behavior of the resulting nanocomposites. The rigid amorphous fraction (RAF) of the nanocomposite matrix as determined by differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis was confirmed to vary significantly with the surface chemistry of the NPs and to be strongly correlated with the bulk mechanical properties in simple tension. Hence, nanocomposites with an RAF of about 30 wt % showed a 120% increase in Young's modulus, a 25% increase in tensile strength, a 15% decrease in elongation at break with respect to the neat matrix, which had no detectable RAF, whereas nanocomposites with an RAF of less than 5% showed a 60% increase in Young's modulus, a 10% increase in tensile strength and a 5% decrease in the elongation at break. (c) 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem. 2019