© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) molecules act as a reducing and stabilizing agent in the formation of silver nanoparticles. PEG undergoes thermal oxidative degradation at temperatures over 70 °C in the presence of oxygen. Here, we studied how the temperature and an oxidizing atmosphere could affect the synthesis of silver nanoparticles with PEG. We tested different AgNO3concentrations for nanoparticles syntheses using PEG of low molecular weight, at 60 and 100 °C. At the higher temperature, the reducing action of PEG increased and the effect of PEG/Ag+ratio on nanoparticles aggregation changed. These results suggest that different synthesis mechanisms operate at 60 and 100 °C. Thus, at 60 °C the reduction of silver ions can occur through the oxidation of the hydroxyl groups of PEG, as has been previously reported. We propose that the thermal oxidative degradation of PEG at 100 °C increases the number of both, functional groups and molecules that can reduce silver ions and stabilize silver nanoparticles. This degradation process could explain the enhancement of PEG reducing action observed by other authors when they increase the reaction temperature or use a PEG of higher molecular weight.