Lim Guan Eng attended the La Salle Primary English School in Petaling Jaya, and later the Batu Pahat Montfort Primary English School. For secondary education, he went to Batu Pahat High School and Malacca High School. He graduated from Monash University, Australia in Bachelor of Economics and was a qualified professional accountant by 1983. He was the president of MUISS (Monash University International Student Society).
Lim was first elected as a Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka in 1986, after defeating Soh Chin Aun with a majority of 17606 votes. He was re-elected in the subsequent 1990 and 1995 general elections, albeit with reducing majority votes. He thus became the first person to be elected for three consecutive terms in Kota Melaka. He was also the first Melaka High School alumni to achieve this.
In the DAP, he was appointed as the DAP Socialist Youth Chairman in 1989 and was elected to that post in 1992. In 1995, he was elected as the DAP Deputy Secretary-General. Lim was elected as the party Secretary-General in 2004, and has held the position since.
Lim was arrested by Malaysian police in 1994, following his criticism of the government's handling of allegations of statutory rape of one of his constituents by former Chief Minister of the state of Malacca, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik. Consequently, while the Attorney General decided not to charge Rahim Thamby Chik, Lim was charged under Section 4(1) (b) of the Sedition Act for causing 'disaffection with the administration of justice in Malaysia'. Lim was also charged under Section 8A (1) of the Printing, Presses and Publications Act for 'maliciously printing' a pamphlet containing allegedly 'false information' because he had described the alleged rape victim as an 'imprisoned victim' because she was initially detained by Malaysian police without parental consent for 10 days.
After a series of appeals, Lim was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. He was, however, released after 12 months on August 25th 1999. Due to his incarceration he was disallowed from standing for election to public office for a period of 5 years, and he was therefore ineligible to contest in the 2004 Malaysian General Election. In 12th Malaysian General Election, he is a candidate in the Bagan parliamentary seat as well as the Air Puteh state assembly seat in Penang.
In the 2008 general elections, Lim made a political comeback, winning both the Bagan parliamentary seat and the Air Putih state seat. He is presently slated to be the next Chief Minister (CM) of Penang, after leading the DAP to success in wresting the state from BN
Lim is married to Betty Chew and they are blessed with four children.