Abstract In solution, the soluble poly(thienyleneethynylene)s (PTEs) all show obvious optical limiting effect. The thin composite plate of PTE-3 in polystyrene (PS) shows stronger optical limiting response than its solution sample and C 60 solution at the same linear transmittance 76%. Even with 86% linear transmittance, the thin plate still shows pretty good optical limiting effect which is better than that of C 60. All the interesting results may be attributed to strap-like structure of PTE-3 formed in PS matrix. So it can be anticipated that the PTEs may be one of the most potential materials to develop practical application for optical limiting.