In this study, unsaturated polyester (UP) resin based on palm oil was synthesized. Palm oil monoglyceride (POMG) was obtained by alchoholysis process of palm oil at 230°C for 3 h. Then, POMG was treated with maleic anhydride (MA) at different ratio of POMG:MA to produce UP resin. The products were then characterized using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) spectrometer. FTIR and 1H-NMR spectrum analyses confirmed that the unsaturated group of MA was chemically attached to POMG. The activation energy of POMG/MA reaction was also studied. The results showed that the ratio of reactants and the presence of 2-methylimidazole influenced the activation energy of reaction. The prepared UP resin was mixed with 35% of styrene, 0.3% of cobalt naphthenate, and 1% of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide before it was subjected to curing process. The effect of POMG/MG ratio on swelling properties of the cured UP was studied, and the result indicated that toluene and cured UP resin were compatible. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2013. © 2012 Society of Plastics Engineers