The thermal elimination of NaCl from sodium chloroacetate, a polymerization reaction that takes place between 150 and 200‡C in the solid state, leads quantitatively to the simplest polyester, polyglycolide. Byin situ IR-spectroscopy, we have shown that the reaction proceeds smoothly and directly without intermediates or by-products. The endgroups of the polymeric product — ionised carboxylate groups (-COONa) and hydrogen-bonded alcohol groups (−COH) — are clearly detectable. It is therefore concluded that the polymer forms extended chains, not rings, during the course of this solid-state reaction. That corresponds well with the idea of a polymerization reaction in the solid state. However, this experiment does not exclude the formation of polyglycolide rings as further product because they do not contain any terminating groups.