The oxygen permeability of the transparent organic anode poly(3,4,-ethylene dioxythiophene) with paratoluenesulphonate as the anion (PEDOT:pTS) was determined to be 2.5 +/- 0.7 x 10(-15) cm(3) (STP) CM cm(-2) S-1 Pa-1, and is thus comparable in magnitude to the oxygen permeability of polyethyleneterephthalate (PET). The oxygen diffusion through bilayers of polyethylene (PE) and PEDOT:pTS and bilayers of PET and PEDOT:pTS was established. The bilayer structures were applied as the carrier substrate and the transparent anode in polymer-based photovoltaic devices employing a mixture of poly(1-methoxy-4-(2-ethylhexyloxy)-p-phenylenevinylene) (MEH-PPV) and [6,6]-phenyt-C-61-butanoicacidmethylester (PCBM) as the active layer and aluminium as the cathode. The oxygen permeability of the layers and the aluminium cathode was correlated with the lifetime of the solar cell devices. It was found that the performance of the devices with PET as the carrier substrate degraded more slowly due to the lower oxygen and water permeability, whereas devices using PE as the carrier substrate gave devices with a very short lifetime. It was found that PEDOT:pTS on its own is a not a significant barrier for oxygen in the context of photovoltaic devices where long lifetimes are anticipated. It is concluded that the large oxygen permeability of the barrier layers contribute to the short device lifetimes while other permeates such as water also contribute to device degradation. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.