The oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were modified with stearic acid (SA) molecules. The SA-modified MWCNTs were characterized with scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy. The tribological properties of the oxidized and SA-modified MWCNTs as additives in water were comparatively investigated with a four-ball tester. The results showed the SA-modified MWCNTs in water have better tribological properties including friction reduction and antiwear than oxidized MWCNTs. The possible mechanism of SA-modified MWCNT as an additive in water was discussed. This research provides the opportunity for the lubricant application of MWCNTs.