In this paper the design of radiation sensitive polymeric imaging systems is reviewed. Advances in design have led to systems that function on the basis of radiation-induced changes in the polarity of polymer repeating units rather than cross-linking. These new systems offer improved resolution, since they do not swell during development. Improvement in sensitivity has been achieved by designing systems that incorporate chemical amplification. The design principles leading to amplification and examples of systems that demonstrate amplification are presented. © 1986, The Electrochemical Society, Inc. All rights reserved.