An improved two-step synthetic route to functionalized cyclic carbonate monomers that features a novel cyclic carbonate intermediate with an active pentafluorophenyl ester group (MTC-OPhF5) has been developed. The versatile pentafluorophenyl ester intermediate can be synthesized on the gram to kilogram scale in one high-yielding step and is easy to store and handle on the benchtop. The active pentafluorophenyl ester of MTC-OPhF5 is amenable to further substitution with suitable nucleophiles such as alcohols and amines to generate functionalized cyclic carbonates in high yields. The substitution reaction is tolerant of a wide variety of functionalities, including various hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups, reactive functionalities (via thiol-ene click chemistry or alkyl halides), and protected acids, alcohols, thiols, and amines. In view of the ever-increasing need for biodegradable and biocompatible polymers, this new methodology provides a simple and versatile platform for the synthesis of new and innovative materials. © 2010 American Chemical Society.