The syntheses of poly(phenylene vinylene) (PPV) and poly(2,5-dimethoxy-phenylene vinylene) (dimethoxy-PPV) have been investigated. Precursor polymers which were soluble and processible were prepared and converted to the conjugated polymers. It was found that the conditions needed to prepare precursor polymers were sensitive to the substrate and the conditions required to form the conjugated polymers were dependent on the leaving group present. The spectroscopic and structural properties of the conjugated polymers were found to be determined by the precursor polymer route followed. © 1991.