An ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) is typically based on a Nafion membrane with electrode plating on both sides and has a promising potential for biomimetic robotics, biomedical devices and human affinity applications. In this paper, the shape memory properties of IPMC were theoretically and experimentally studied. We presented the multiple shape memory properties of a Nafion cylinder. A physics based model of the IPMC was proposed. The free energy density theory was utilized to analyze the shape properties of the IPMC. To verify the model, IPMC samples with Nafion as the base membrane were prepared and experiments were conducted. A simulation of the model was performed and the results were compared with the experimental data. It was successfully demonstrated that the theoretical model can well explain the shape memory properties of the IPMC. The results showed that the reheat glass transition temperature of the IPMC is lower than the programming temperature. It was also found that the back-relaxation of the IPMC decreases as the programming temperature increases. The current study may be useful in order to better understand the shape memory effect of IPMC.