Cryopreservation is important for enabling long-term cell preservation. However, physical damage due to ice crystal formation and membrane permeation by dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) severely affects cryopreserved cell viability. To ensure cell survival and functional maintenance after cryopreservation, it is important to protect the cell membrane, the most vulnerable cell component, from freeze-thaw damage. This study aimed to create a glycolipid derivative having a positive interaction with the cell membrane and cytoprotective effects. As a result, we synthesized a novel trehalose derivative, oleyl-trehalose (Oleyl-Treh), composed of trehalose and oleyl groups. Its use led to increased viable cell counts when used with DMSO in a non-cytotoxic concentration range (1.6 nM-16 μM). Oleyl-Treh significantly improved viability and liver-specific functions of hepatocytes after cryopreservation, including albumin secretion, ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity (an indicator of cytochrome P450 family 1 subfamily A member 1 activity), and ammonia metabolism. Oleyl-Treh could localize trehalose to the cell membrane; furthermore, the oleyl group affected cell membrane fluidity and exerted cryoprotective effects. This novel cryoprotective agent, which shows a positive interaction with the cell membrane, provides a unique approach toward cell protection during cryopreservation.