Strain rate dependency is an important issue for the mechanical response of materials in impact events. Dynamic mechanical properties of a high‐strength poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) were studied by using split Hopkinson pressure bar technology. The maximum stress is enhanced with the increase of strain rate, and then keeps a constant with the further increase of strain rate, which is accompanied with a linear increase of fracture energy density. The critical data of strain rate and maximum stress were determined. Eyring's equation was applied for analyzing the influence factors, which relate to the hardening induced by strain rate and softening caused by adiabatic temperature rise. Inherent physical mechanisms were clarified and the strategies for designing advanced impact‐resistant polymers were proposed. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2018, 135, 46189.