Jute fibres (Corchorus olitorious), an environmentally and ecologically friendly product, were chemically modified and treated with 5% NaOH solution at room temperature for 2 h, 4 h and 8 h. The above samples were characterized and morphologically analysed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT–IR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Instron 1185. Alkali treatment affects the supramolecular structure of the fibre as shown by XRD by improving the degree of crystallinity of the fibre. Surface chemistry of the fibre also altered as depicted by FT–IR studies. This chemical treatment was also found to alter the characteristic of the fibre surface topography as seen by the SEM. From the mechanical single fibre test it was found that the tenacity and modulus of the fibre improved after alkali treatment. This might be due to the improvement in the crystallinity. DSC data demonstrated that the thermal degradation temperature for the cellulose get lowered from 365.26°C to 360.62°C after alkali treatment led to the reduction in fibre thermal stability. Jute fibre reinforced composite were prepared with treated and untreated jute fibre (15 wt%) reinforced unsaturated polyester (UPE). Effectiveness of these composites was experimentally investigated through the study of the composites by DSC, Instron 1195 for mechanical property of composites, volume fraction of the porosity and hydrophobic finishing of the composite. From the DSC analysis it was found that thermal stability enhanced for treated fibre reinforced composite. This could be due to the resistance offered by the closely packed cellulose chain in combination with the resin. Flexural strength of the composite prepared with 2 h and 4 h alkali treated fibre were found to increase by 3.16% and 9.5%, respectively. Although 8 h treated fibre exhibited maximum strength properties, but the composite prepared with them showed lower strength value. Alkali treatment helped in the development of hydrophobicity and reduction in volume fraction of the porosity. This may be due to the better fibre matrix interface adhesion caused due to the fibre surface treatment by alkali.