There has been increased focus on seawater desalination as a viable alternative water source for coastal communities in recent years. Advances in membrane technology and increased pressure on traditional water supplies have contributed to make this process economically feasible in coastal regions, which are heavily dependent on imported water. In addition to economic limitations, a major technical hurdle to application of Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination for drinking water production has been membrane fouling due to inadequate pretreatment. Recent full-scale experiences have shown that pretreatment is key to the success of SWRO facilities. This paper presents the results from a unique series of bench and pilot scale tests conducted in Southern California, designed to determine the effect of pretreatment on Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) performance. The two most commonly used pretreatment schemes for SWRO - conventional pretreatment (coagulation/ filtration) and membrane filtration were evaluated. Bench scale tests were conducted for optimization of coagulant dose for conventional pretreatment. A bench scale setup based on a modification of the Batch Internal Recycle Membrane Test (BAIReMT) developed by DiGiano et al (2000) was designed for screening RO membranes. Additionally, size fractionation of the seawater was conducted and RO fouling experiments was performed using the above setup to determine the effect of various size fractions on RO fouling. These size fractions can be related to different levels of pretreatment commonly utilized for seawater RO. Pilot testing was conducted in two phases: Phase I testing focused on pretreatment evaluation, while Phase II was focused on RO evaluation. During Phase I two filter configurations and microfiltration were evaluated as pretreatment strategies. In the second phase of pilot testing two RO systems were operated simultaneously to evaluate the effect of the pretreatments on RO fouling under different operating conditions and source water types.