Poly(cyclopentene sulfone) (PCPS) and poly(bicycloheptene sulfone) (PBCHS) copolymers have been evaluated as potential positive electron beam resists which have good thermal properties and which show high sensitivity to ionizing radiation. It was found that thin copolymer films could be processed as resists but that films greater than 3000 Å thick cracked in the solvents used to dissolve the radiation‐exposed regions. Incorporation of plasticizing additives did not improve the film properties. Films from low molecular weight polymer fractions cracked less in solvents, but higher radiation doses were required to offset the reduced sensitivity. This resulted in the formation of intractable residues in the exposed regions which appear to be crosslinked polymer. Bicycloheptene monomers with specific functional groups did not improve the properties of the copolymer films. Terpolymerization with α‐olefins such as butene‐1 and cis‐2‐butene plasticized these films and reduced their tendency to crack in solvents. Poly(cyclopentene sulfone–co–butene‐1 sulfone) films were found to have the best properties, and 1.25‐μ resist images could be etched in SiO2 layers at an exposure dose of 4 × 10−6 C/cm2 at 25KV. However, one important limitation of this terpolymer was the low dissolution rate ratio between the exposed and unexposed regions. Since straight‐walled relief images are essential to the formation of high‐resolution patterns, the usefulness of this terpolymer as an electron beam resist appears to be hindered by the limited choice of good solvents to maximize the dissolution rate ratio. PBCHS block terpolymers containing methyl methacrylate (MMA) or methacrylic acid (MAA) were synthesized to improve the solubility in solvents and to incorporate the properties of methacrylates. PBCHS–MMA films cracked in solvents after irradiation; PBCHS–MAA polymers were too insoluble to form resist films. Copyright © 1977 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.