Abstract A large quantity of silicon microstrip detectors is foreseen to be used as part of the CMS tracker. A specific research and development program has been carried out with the aim of defining layouts and technological solutions suitable for the use of silicon detectors in high radiation environment. Results presented here summarise this work on many research areas such as techniques for device manufacturing, pre- and post-irradiation electrical characterization, silicon bulk defects analysis and simulations, system performance analytical calculations and simulations and test beam analysis. As a result of this work we have chosen to use single-sided, AC-coupled, poly silicon biased, 300 μm thick, p + on n substrate detectors. We feel confident that these devices will match the required performances for the CMS tracker provided they can be operated at bias voltages as high as 500 V. Such high-voltage devices have been succesfully manufactured and we are now concentrating our efforts in enhancing yield and reliability.