This work aims to assess the acclimation of microorganisms to a gradual increase of salinity and hydrocarbons, during the start-up of two moving bed membrane bioreactors (MB-MBRs) fed with saline oily wastewater. In both systems an ultrafiltration membrane was used and two types of carriers were employed: polyurethane sponge cubes (MB-MBRI) and polyethylene cylindrical carriers (MB-MBRII). A decreasing dilution factor of slops has been adopted in order to allow biomass acclimation. The simultaneous effect of salinity and hydrocarbons played an inhibitory role in biomass growth and this resulted in a decrease of the biological removal efficiencies. A reduction of bound extracellular polymeric substances and a simultaneous release of soluble microbial products (SMPs) were observed, particularly in the MB-MBRII system, probably due to the occurrence of a greater suspended biomass stress as response to the recalcitrance of substrate. On the one hand, a clear attachment of biomass occurred only in MB-MBRI and this affected the fouling deposition on the membrane surface. The processes of detachment and entrapment of biomass, from and into the carriers, significantly influenced the superficial cake deposition and its reversibility. On the other hand, in MB-MBRII, the higher production of SMPs implied a predominance of the pore blocking.