Magnetron sputtering devices are used primarily for blanket metal film deposition. An extended series of measurements on these devices has been undertaken to help document basic operating parameters, as well as to determine the various interactions between the plasma, the sputtered atoms and the film deposition process. Plasma probe measurements suggest that the plasma has conventional, positive space charge limited sheaths and that the electron conduction mechanism is Bohm diffusion. Significant gas density rarefaction, due to heating by the sputtered atoms, has been measured and modeled. The gas rarefaction mechanism has been determined to affect the current-voltage relation of the device. Optical emission spectroscopy has been used to characterize the particle fluxes-discharge current relationship. © 1989.