The global shift to usage of eco-friendly materials has driven a movement for the utilization of many additives in construction practices. Moreover, the application of nanomaterials has also been increased for enhancing the performance of concrete. This paper primarily focuses on the reinforcing effects of graphene oxide (GO) on high-strength concrete (HSC) made with and without rice husk ash (RHA). Cement was replaced with 10% RHA by weight. GO was added in different proportions of 0.025, 0.050, 0.075 and 0.1% by weight of cement. Performance of engineered mixes was evaluated as mechanical (compressive, flexural and splitting tensile strength), durability (water absorption, sorptivity, rapid chloride penetration and acid resistance) and microstructural (SEM and EDAX). The results depicted that mechanical and durability properties of HSC increased significantly on the incorporation of GO and further increased with partial replacement of cement with 10% RHA. The optimum performance in terms of mechanical and durability properties was achieved by a combination of 10% RHA and 0.075% GO. Increasing the percentage of GO beyond 0.075% results in drop-in strength and durability properties. Furthermore, the microstructural studies indicated that the mixes containing both RHA and GO exhibited a denser microstructure, by consuming calcium hydroxide and producing additional C–S–H gel in the matrix, concluding the practicability for use of GO and RHA in HSC. © 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.