The radiation-induced crystallinity damage in poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) in the presence of air and in vacuum, is studied. From the heat of fusion enthalpy values of gamma irradiated samples, some changes on the thermal properties were determined. To identify these changes, first the glass transition temperature (T-g) Of L-lactic acid polymers irradiated to various doses in air and vacuum have been investigated and it is found that it is independent of irradiation atmosphere and dose. The fraction of damaged units of PLLA per unit of absorbed energy has been measured. For this purpose, SAXS and differential scanning calorimetry methods were used, and the radiation yield of number of damaged units (G(-u)) is found to be 0.74 and 0.58 for PLLA samples irradiated in vacuum and air, respectively. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.