The effect of low-energy ion bombardment on CD4/O2 and CF3X (X=F, Cl, Br) plasma etching has been assessed by applying controlled rf bias voltages on polystyrene (PS) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) samples. In both cases ion bombardment has been found to have a "chemical" effect. In the case of CF4/O2 discharges, ion bombardment has been found to change the relative etching efficiency of different mixtures. In the case of CF3X plasmas, ion bombardment has been found to alter PMMA and PS etch rates in a different way. In particular, the ratios between CF4 and CF3X (X=Cl, Br) etch rates of PS have been found to decrease with increasing bias voltage. This effect has been tentatively attributed to an ion bombardment-induced enhancement of the reaction between the aromatic ring and halogen molecules formed in CF3Cl and CF3Br discharges. © 1989 Plenum Publishing Corporation.