The electronic structure of polymide and several related compounds was investigated theoretically and experimentally. The compounds include pyromellitic dianhydride, oxydianiline, and polyamic acid. Experimental electronic-structure determinations for poly(methyl phenylene oxide) and poly(vinyl methyl ketone) are also reported. The theoretical approach employed valence effective-Hamiltonian calculations. Photoelectron spectroscopy (x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, soft-x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy) was used to experimentally measure the total valence-band density of states (VBDOS) from thin films of the above compounds. The theoretical VBDOSs were cross-section modulated to facilitate comparison with experiment. Very good agreement is found between the theoretical results and the experimental VBDOSs. © 1990 The American Physical Society.