AbstractThe degradation of polymers is described by mathematical models based on bond cleavage statistics including the decreasing probability of chain cuts with decreasing average chain length. We derive equations for the degradation of chains under a random chain cut and a chain end cut mechanism, which are compared to existing models. The results are used to predict the influence of internal molecular parameters. It is shown that both chain cut mechanisms lead to a similar shape of the mass or molecular mass loss curve. A characteristic time is derived, which can be used to extract the maximum length of soluble fragments l of the polymer. We show that the complete description is needed to extract the degradation rate constant k from the molecular mass loss curve and that l can be used to design polymers that lose less mechanical stability before entering the mass loss phase.