The surface of polypropylene (PP) films was activated by RF plasma method with the use different gases: argon, air, water vapor, and acetic acid vapor. Plasma was diagnosed based on spectra emitted by gas plasma using the method of optical emission spectroscopy. The effectiveness of these processing gases during plasma treatment was analyzed. The effects of PP activation were assessed with the use of IR-ATR absorption spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and the analysis of the surface free energy components based on liquid contact angle. The activation of PP surface by plasma treatment resulted in the increased energy of PP surface layer to the extent being dependent on the type of processing gases and in the formation of new chemical groups on it. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011.