Reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology is one of the most important technologies for water treatment. However, membrane fouling is an inevitable issue. Membrane fouling leads to higher operating pressure, flux decline, frequent chemical cleaning and shorter membrane life. This paper reviews membrane fouling types and fouling control strategies, with a focus on the latest developments. The fundamentals of fouling are discussed in detail, including biofouling, organic fouling, inorganic scaling and colloidal fouling. Furthermore, fouling mitigation technologies are also discussed comprehensively. Pretreatment is widely used in practice to reduce the burden for the following RO operation while real time monitoring of RO has the advantage and potential of providing support for effective and efficient cleaning. Surface modification could slow down membrane fouling by changing surface properties such as surface smoothness and hydrophilicity, while novel membrane materials and synthesis processes build a promising future for the next generation of RO membranes with big advancements in fouling resistance. Especially in this review paper, statistical analysis is conducted where appropriate to reveal the research interests in RO fouling and control. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.