Improving fouling resistance and chlorine stability of aromatic polyamide (PA) thin-film composite (TFC) reverse osmosis membrane is still of considerable need in desalination membrane technology. Here, we reported the chemical linkage of neutral hydrophilic polymer polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) on the surface of a commercial PA TFC membrane through a single step of grafting with potassium persulfate as thermal dissociation initiator and its role on the improvement of membrane resistance to both chlorine and fouling. Membrane characterization was conducted through ATR-FTIR spectroscopy, SEM, AFM, measurements of streaming potential and contact angle and cross-flow permeation tests. It was found that membrane surface became smoother, more hydrophilic and less charged after modification and the modified membrane exhibited an increased slat rejection, a slightly declined water flux and improved fouling resistances to the model foulants of bovine serum albumin (BSA), sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and dodecyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (DTAB). The chlorine exposure tests under accelerated conditions also indicated that the membrane chlorine stability has been enhanced effectively. The PVA molecules on the membrane surface could effectively enhance membrane anti-adsorption capability and prevent the underlying polyamide backbones from chlorine attack, and thereby improving membrane resistance to both fouling and chlorine. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.