Laser flash photolysis and EPR studies were performed to elucidate the mechanism of photoinduced step polymerization of thiophene by using diphenyliodonium (Ph2I+) and triphenylsulphonium (Ph3S+) ions as photoinitiators. Photoexcitation of these ions generated phenyliodinium (PhI center dot+) and diphenylsulphinium (Ph2S center dot+) radical cations, which were readily quenched by thiophene with rate constants of k(q) = 1.26 x 10(10) and 1.7 x 10(5) M-1 s(-1), respectively. The transient absorption spectra of the corresponding thiophene radical cations were not directly detectable because of the spectral overlap with the precursor salts. However, the related electron-transfer reaction was confirmed by quenching of the PhI center dot+ radical cation with bithiophene to form the radical cation of bithiophene, which absorb strongly at 420 nm. EPR studies also confirmed the proposed electron-transfer mechanism through the direct detection of the radical cation of thiophene.