A novel technique based on in situ steady state fluorescence measurements is introduced for studying swelling processes of gels formed by free radical crosslinking copolymerization of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDM) in homopolymer solutions. Gels were prepared at 55 +/- 2 degreesC for various EGDM contents. After drying these gels, swelling experiments were performed in chloroform solution of anthracene labeled poly(methyl methacrylate) (An-PMMA) in various molecular weights at room temperature by real time monitoring of anthracene fluorescence intensity. Anthracene labeled PMMA chains having various molecular weights were prepared by atom transfer radical polymerization at 90 T. During the swelling experiments, it was observed that anthracene emission intensities increased due to trapping of An-PMMA chains into the gel as the swelling time is increased. The trapping of AD-PMMA chains in swollen gel, increase by obeying parabolic law in time. Penetration time constant, tau of PMMA chains were measured and found to be increased as the crosslinker density of gel is increased. It is observed that tau values are much higher for high molecular weight An-PMMA chains than low molecular weight chains in all gel samples. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.