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We investigate with nonreactive molecular dynamics simulations the dynamic response of phenolic resin and its carbon-nanotube (CNT) composites to shock wave compression. For phenolic resin, our simulations yield shock states in agreement with experiments on similar polymers except the “phase change” observed in experiments, indicating that such phase change is chemical in nature. The elastic–plastic transition is characterized by shear stress relaxation and atomic-level slip, and phenolic resin shows strong strain hardening. Shock loading of the CNT-resin composites is applied parallel or perpendicular to the CNT axis, and the composites demonstrate anisotropy in wave propagation, yield and CNT deformation. The CNTs induce stress concentrations in the composites and may increase the yield strength. Our simulations suggest that the bulk shock response of the composites depends on the volume fraction, length ratio, impact cross-section, and geometry of the CNT components; the short CNTs in current simulations have insignificant effect on the bulk response of resin polymer.