Water transport through gas diffusion layer of proton exchange membrane fuels cells is investigated experimentally. A filtration cell is designed and the permeation threshold and the apparent water permeability of several carbon papers are investigated. Similar carbon paper with different thicknesses and different Teflon loadings are tested to study the effects of geometrical and surface properties on the water transport. Permeation threshold increases with both GDL thickness and Teflon loading. In addition, a hysteresis effect exists in GDLs and the permeation threshold reduces as the samples are retested. Moreover, several compressed GDL are tested and the results show that compression does not affect the breakthrough pressure significantly. The measured values of apparent permeability indicate that the majority of pores in GDLs are not filled with water and the reactant access to the catalyst layer is not hindered.