In situ synthesis of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and polystyrene (PS) nanocomposites by free radical polymerization using intercalated chain transfer agent (I-CTA) in the layers of montmorillonite (MMT) clay is reported. MMT clay was ion-exchanged with diethyl octyl ammonium ethylmercaptan bromide, which acts both as suitable intercalant and as chain transfer agent. These modified clays were then dispersed in methyl methacrylate (MMA) or styrene (St) monomers in different loading degrees to carry out the in situ free radical polymerization. The intercalation ability of the chain transfer agent and exfoliated nanocomposite structure were evidenced by both X-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Thermal properties and morphologies of the resultant nanocomposites were also studied. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.