Fast transient fluorescence technique was used to monitor swelling of hard latex particles in a soft polymer matrix. Various film samples were prepared from pyrene (P) and/or naphthalene (N)-labeled poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) particles in a low-molecular-weight poly(isobutylene) (PIB) matrix. These PMMA particles contain interpenetrating PIB channels. Film samples were annealed at elevated temperatures to promote particle swelling. Fluorescence lifetimes, tau, were measured for each film sample. It was observed that tau values decrease as the PIB content in the matrix is increased. The decrease in tau was explained by the increase in quenching of excited P and N molecules by low-molecular-weight PIB penetrating into the PIB channels in the PMMA particles. A drastic decrease in tau above a certain temperature was attributed to the effect of particle size on the swelling of the latex particles in the PIB matrix. It was observed that small particles (P-labeled) swell at much lower annealing temperatures than large (N-labeled) particles. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).