The aim of this work was to study the activity of unmodified and modified ZnO in the peroxide crosslinking of hydrogenated acrylonitrile-butadiene elastomer (HNBR) and ethylene-propylene copolymer (EPM). In the first step, zinc oxide was obtained by emulsion precipitation. Maleic acid was introduced onto the surface of ZnO using an in situ method. The unmodified and modified zinc oxide was characterized using dispersive and morphological analysis, BET surface area analysis, and elemental, spectroscopic and thermal analysis. In the second stage of the research, the ZnO/MA systems were incorporated into the structure of elastomer compounds improving the kinetic and mechanical properties of vulcanizates. The proposed modification method had a favorable effect on the physicochemical properties of the zinc oxide and on the kinetic and mechanical properties of the vulcanizates. This study demonstrated that modification of zinc oxide by maleic acid is a promising technique.