Abstract Poly (β-L-malic acid) (PMLA) is a biodegradable polymer and it has various important applications in the biomedical field. In the present work the structural and spectral characteristics of PMLA have been studied by methods of infrared, Raman spectroscopy and quantum chemistry. Electrostatic potential surface, optimized geometry, harmonic vibrational frequencies, infrared intensities and activities of Raman scattering were calculated by density functional theory (DFT) using oligomeric approach employing B3LYP with complete relaxation in the potential energy surface using 6-311++G (d, p) basis set. Based on results, we have discussed the correlation between the vibrational modes and the structure of the PMLA. A complete analysis of the experimental infrared and Raman spectra has been reported on the basis of wavenumber of the vibrational bands and potential energy distribution. The calculated HOMO and LUMO energies shows that charge transfer occur within the molecule. The calculated infrared and the Raman spectra of the polymer based on DFT calculations show reasonable agreement with the experimental results.