The effect of thermal-treatment severity of wood on the mechanical and morphological properties of wood plastic composites (WPCs) was investigated. Wood chips were first heat treated at 120, 150, or 180 degrees C for 30 or 120 min under saturated steam in a digester. The composites were composed of thermally treated and untreated wood flour, polypropylene, and a coupling agent, produced by melt compounding and then injection molding. The thermal-treatment of the beech wood improved some mechanical properties of the WPCs, depending on the treatment-time and temperature. The SEM micrographs of the composites showed that the outer surface of the wood fiber was coated by a section of amorphous lignin. The SEM images showed that the WPCs produced from the wood treated at 150 degrees C for 30 min had considerably fewer holes and many broken fiber ends embedded in the polymer matrix, indicating better compatibility between the wood flour and the polymer matrix. Based on the results of the mechanical testing of the WPCs, the optimum thermal-treatment for WPC production was 150 degrees C for 30 min.