We report a strong dependence of the thermal stability of Nafion® perfluorosulfonate ionomer on the nature of the counterion associated with the fixed sulfonate site. These results were obtained using thermal gravimetric analysis on a series of alkali metal and alkyl ammonium cation-exchanged Nafion films. We have found that the temperature of decomposition of Nafion is inversely dependent on the size of the exchanged cation; i.e., Nafion films show improved thermal stability as the size of the counter cation decreases. We attribute this inverse relationship of thermal stability with counterion size to an initial decomposition reaction which is strongly influenced by the strength of the sulfonate-coun-terion interaction. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.