The electro-oxidation and electroreduction behavior of polyaniline films in acetonitrile in the absence and presence of added acid or base were investigated using cyclic voltammetry. A general mechanism is proposed that enables the interpretation of the electroactivity loss and the catalytic and autocatalytic properties of the film. The electroactivity loss was found to be a reversible phenomenon which is accelerated in alkaline solutions through deprotonation. Electroactivity was recovered when the electroinactive films were reduced in an acidic solution. The films that lose their electroactivity on electro-oxidation were found to be conducting, and various cation radicals in the structure are believed to be responsible for this nonprotonic conductivity. The proton content of the polyaniline film was found to be crucial in determining its electrochemical and physical properties. Autocatalysis was detected when protons were produced electrolytically in situ during electropolymerization. © 1994.