AbstractHemp fibers–reinforced unsaturated polyester (UP) composites were prepared by hand lay-out compression molding. Hemp fibers were treated with isocyanatoethyl methacrylate (IEM), using dibutyltin dilaurate as a catalyst. The results indicated that fiber treatment significantly increased tensile strength, flexural strength, flexural modulus, and water resistance of the resulting composites, and yet decreased the impact strength of the composites. The water absorption characteristics for composite samples immersed in water at room temperature followed Fickian behaviour, but for those evaluated at temperature 100 °C, there was a deviation from Fickian behaviour. Scanning electron microscope graphs of the tensile-fractured surface of hemp–UP composites revealed that fiber treatment with IEM greatly improved the interfacial adhesion between hemp fibers and UP resins. Fourier transform infrared analysis of the treated fibers showed that some IEM was covalently bonded onto hemp fibers.