Hybrid latex particles have an increasing importance in industrial applications especially for high performance waterborne coatings. They provide combined properties of different phase compositions for the final polymer which can also be enhanced by additives such as nanoclays. The present study describes the preparation of a hybrid polyacrylate/OMMT nanocomposite latex via two stage in situ emulsion polymerization with a low emulsifier content (1 wt%) which is usually a challenge for the preparation of stable polymer/OMMT nanocomposite latexes. The obtained nanocomposite latex was stable and had a fine average size diameter of 151 nm with a very narrow size distribution. The copolymer films exhibited a well exfoliated structure observed by WAXD and TEM. Other polymer properties were investigated by FTIR, DSC, TGA, DMTA and rheological measurements. The results indicated that the addition of clay even in low amount (2 wt%) yielded significantly improved mechanical and thermal properties of the final polymer. In addition, the nanocomposite latex was also applied on leathers as coating binder in a finishing formulation and the results of the performance tests revealed substantially increased rubbing and heat resistance whereas a slight decrease was observed at water vapor permeability of the coated leathers. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.