Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) films were grafted with n-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone (n-VP) using an azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN) initiator. Films were pretreated in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) for 1 h at 140 degrees C before the polymerization reaction was carried out. Variations of graft yield with time, temperature, initiator, and monomer concentrations were investigated. The optimum temperature and polymerization time was found to be 70 degrees C and 4 h, respectively. Increasing monomer concentration from 0.28 to 1.22M and initiator concentration from 1.77 x 10(-3) to 4.20 x 10(-3)M enhanced the percent grafting. The effects of monomer and initiator diffusion on PET films were also studied. The overall activation energy for grafting was calculated as 11.5 kcal/mol. Further changes in properties of PET films such as water-absorption capacity and intrinsic viscosity mere determined. The grafted films were characterized with FTIR and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). (C) 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.