Bulk heterojunction solar cells based on P3HT : PCBM blend films are among the most intensively studied polymer solar cells. In spite of that, there is a huge variation of reported efficiencies in the literature, even for same device architectures and film preparation procedures. Here we investigated the influence of starting properties of P3HT and PCBM (different suppliers) on blend film morphology and device performance. We found that there was a strong dependence of the film morphology and device performance on the source of chemicals used. Both P3HT and PCBM affected the results, and higher nominal purity did not necessarily result in better device performance. The dependence of the film morphology and device performance on the properties of P3HT and PCBM is discussed in detail. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 39776.