In this study, properties and hydration characteristics as well as paste microstructure of blended cements containing 55% by weight zeolitic tuff composed mainly of clinoptilolite mineral were investigated. Free Ca(OH)(2) content, crystalline hydration products and decomposition of zeolite crystal structure, pore size distribution and microstructural architecture of hydrated cement pastes were examined. Superplasticizer requirement and compressive strength development of blended cement mortars were also determined. The blended cements containing high volume of natural zeolites were characterized with the following properties: (i) no free Ca(OH)(2) in hardened pastes at the end of 28 days of hydration, (ii) less proportion of the pores larger than 50 nm when compared to portland cement paste, (iii) complete decomposition of crystal structure of zeolite at the end of 28 days oil. hydration, (iv) presence of tetra calcium aluminate hydrate as a crystalline product of pozzolanic reaction, (v) more compatibility with the melamine-based superplasticizer when compared to the naphthalene based product, and (vi) similar 28 days compressive strength of mortars to that of reference portland cement. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.