Synthesis of new hydrogel polymers based on 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate and other functional monomers is described. These copolymers are useful for anchoring palladium and rhodium species. The resulting supported catalysts are effective for the hydrogenation of alkenes, alkynes and dienes under mild conditions. The supported catalysts have been characterised by chemical analysis, particle size measurements, IR, TGA and X-ray photoelectron spectra. Kinetics of hydrogenation have been evaluated using the concepts applicable to slurry reactors. The hydrogenation proceed through the 'unsaturate route'. Relative reactivities of a few substrates, solvent and particle size effects and selectivities by product analysis have been assessed. These catalysts possess excellent recycling efficiencies. © 1990.