Nanotechnology is the term used to cover the design, construction and utilization of structures with at least one dimension measured in nanometers. Compared with typical civil engineering structures the two fields operate on hugely divergent dimensional scales. Nanotechnology initially developed in the fields of physics and chemistry, and most fundamental developments still occur in these fields. However, for the technology to affect society at large, it needs to be applied in areas such as the engineering field. This paper focuses specifically on current and potential developments in pavement engineering where the unique properties of nanomaterials may be utilized to deliver a better environment to society, based on identified needs and challenges in the pavement engineering field. It is demonstrated that there are essentially two areas where nanotechnology can complement pavement engineering. These are in the development of improved materials and the use of characterization methods to improve the understanding of materials. Examples of current and planned research in these areas are cited and discussed. Finally, current challenges in exploiting the unique properties of nanomaterials in pavement engineering are indicated and discussed. The paper demonstrates that although the majority of the fundamental developments in nanoscale science and technology are occurring in the fundamental physics, chemistry and typically electronic engineering fields, the potential for this technology to impact on the quality of life of society at large is huge.