A simple and efficient route was used to prepare an amphiphilic copolymer (poly(propylene glycol)-co-poly(ethylene glycol)-co-poly(propylene glycol)) (PPG-co-PEG-co-PPG) by one-pot polymerization reaction. This copolymer was used as the hydrophilic additive in preparation of poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) ultrafiltration membranes via immersion–precipitation process. Surface characteristics of the membranes were confirmed by contact angle measurements, zeta potential, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. During filtration experiments, the modified membranes showed better permeation and antifouling performances compared to PVDF membranes with bovine serum albumin, sodium alginate and yeast. After hydraulic stirring cleaning with deionized water, water flux recovery and rejection ratio of the modified membranes were higher than those of pristine PVDF membrane, and the flux recovery ratio was maximized at 94.29%. It was suggested that PPG-co-PEG-co-PPG copolymer was anchored in the PVDF membrane through the two hydrophobic ends of PPG blocks, while the hydrophilic intermediate of the PEG block segregated onto the membrane or pore surface during the membrane preparation process. The synthesized method of amphiphilic PPG-co-PEG-co-PPG copolymer paved a novel way to solve the problems of less compatibility between the copolymer and membrane matrix and instability with water molecules in the ultrafiltration process.

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