Abstract A modified sol–gel process based on polyethylene glycol has been developed for preparing (Bi,Pb) 2Sr 2Ca 2Cu 3O x precursor powders in view of Ag-sheeted tape manufacture. A careful control of the pH and concentration temperature yields an amorphous gel, which can be converted to a fine and extremely reactive powder. The reactions taking place during the process were studied. Various calcination conditions were used in order to obtain precursor powders having different characteristics (grain size distribution, phase assembly). The influence of precursor preparation parameters on the formation of the (Bi,Pb) 2Sr 2Ca 2Cu 3O x phase in pressed pellets and on some of its physical properties is presented and discussed.