© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Coupled hydro-mechanical (HM) processes are significant in geological engineering such as oil and gas extraction, geothermal energy, nuclear waste disposal and for the safety assessment of dam foundations and rock slopes, where the geological media usually consist of fractured rock masses. In this study, we developed a model for the analysis of coupled hydro-mechanical processes in porous rock containing dominant fractures, by using the numerical manifold method (NMM). In the current model, the fractures are regarded as different material domains from surrounding rock, i.e., finite-thickness fracture zones as porous media. Compared with the rock matrix, these fractured porous media are characterized with nonlinear behavior of hydraulic and mechanical properties, involving not only direct (poroelastic) coupling but also indirect (property change) coupling. By combining the potential energy associated with mechanical responses, fluid flow and solid–fluid interactions, a new formulation for direct HM coupling in porous media is established. For indirect coupling associated with fracture opening/closure, we developed a new approach implicitly considering the nonlinear properties by directly assembling the corresponding strain energy. Compared with traditional methods with approximation of the nonlinear constitutive equations, this new formulation achieves a more accurate representation of the nonlinear behavior. We implemented the new model for coupled HM analysis in NMM, which has fixed mathematical grid and accurate integration, and developed a new computer code. We tested the code for direct coupling on two classical poroelastic problems with coarse mesh and compared the results with the analytical solutions, achieving excellent agreement, respectively. Finally, we tested for indirect coupling on models with a single dominant fracture and obtained reasonable results. The current poroelastic NNM model with a continuous finite-thickness fracture zone will be further developed considering thin fractures in a discontinuous approach for a comprehensive model for HM analysis in fractured porous rock masses.