A system for incorporating antimicrobial zinc into polymeric materials, in particular hydrogel type polymers has been developed. Zn(Bipy-(MMOES) 2) a zinc carboxylate monomer was designed with the purpose of mimicking commercial cross linking agents such as ethylene glycol diacrylate, as well as containing antimicrobial zinc ions (Zn2+), with the intention that it can be used to cross link into any polymeric material, the example here being polyacrylic acid. Two systems were studied: a homopolymer of the Zn(Bipy-(MMOES)2) and copolymers of Zn(Bipy-(MMOES)2) with acrylic acid (AA). The AA - Zn(Bipy-(MMOES)2) produced water swellable polymers which retained antimicrobial activity. The ability of the polymers to release the zinc ions was shown to be pH responsive and the leachate analysed to give a proposed mechanism of action. The Zn(Bipy-(MMOES) 2) monomer and polymers have shown antibacterial activity against both gram positive Methicillin susceptible staphylococcus aureus (MSSA 476) and gram negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA01).