A one-step plasma deposition process is described which allows the uniform dispersion of small metal clusters throughout a thin film polymer matrix. Plasma parameters and plasma gas phase diagnostics relevant to the control of film composition and structure are discussed. Chemical and structural analytical techniques such as I.R. absorption spectroscopy, E.S.C.A., Auger electron spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence, X-ray and electron diffraction and microscopy are used to characterize the cluster containing films. Changes in cluster size and shape as a function of volume fraction and as a result of post deposition annealing are described. Optical and electrical properties are presented below and above the onset of percolation and are evaluated in terms of contemporary effective medium theories. © 1986 Springer-Verlag.