To prevent the degradation of the borehole and also the disintegration and dispersion of drilled cuttings, different shale stabilizing additives are used in water-based drilling fluids (WBFs). Glycols, poly(ethylene glycol), glycerols, and polyglycerol derivatives, also called polyols, have been used to inhibit shales containing reactive clays in WBF. These additives are normally used in conjunction with KCl to reduce clay swelling and dispersion of drilled cuttings. Highly branched polymers have become an important field in current polymer science. Such materials typically exhibit compact, globular structures in combination with an exceptionally high number of sites with functional groups. They have unique properties that differ significantly from their linear counterparts, and the hyperbranched polyglycerol (hPG) is an important hyperbranched polymer that can be produced from an environmentally benign monomer, the glycerol carbonate. In this article, the clay inhibitive properties of hPG were evaluated by different test methods including bentonite inhibition test, cuttings recovery, and X-ray diffraction measurements. The results show that the hPG has a great potential to be used as an environmental friendly inhibitor additive in WBFs. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40384.