A novel Cu-pHEMA hybrid was successfully prepared by in situ photopolymerization of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) monomer in the presence of Cu(II) copper ions, following an in situ chemical reduction. Experimental observations indicate that intermolecular interactions such as the coupling force and hydrogen bonding between the Cu and the hydroxyl groups further stabilize the hybrid structure to a considerable extent. Localization of the metallic copper particles within the pHEMA network structure as a result of those intermolecular interactions gives rise to the formation of discretely distributed nanocrystallites with particle sizes ranging from 5 to 25 nm in diameter. A crystallographic change of the Cu nanophase from an amorphous-like to a crystalline structure is observed as the H2O:HEMA molar ratio increases, upon synthesis, accompanied with an increase in the particle size. A relatively slow and sustained release of the Cu (in the form of cupric ions) from the hybrids was measured for a time period of about 10 days, which also illustrates a Cu(II)-induced proliferation of the endothelial cells over a relatively small range of release rate of the Cu from the hybrids. Such a new type of Cu-loaded hybrid hydrogel is expected to be compatible and may be considered as a candidate biomaterial for biomedical/therapeutic uses.