Abstract High-spin states of 38Ar and 35Cl have been investigated with the 24Mg( 16O, 2pγ) 38Ar and 24Mg( 16O, pαγ) 35Cl reactions at beam energies of 38 and 45 MeV. The experiments consisted of γ-γ coincidence, angular distribution and linear polarization measurements. A high-resolution large volume Ge(Li)-NaI(Tl) Compton-suppression spectrometer and a three-Ge(Li) Compton polarimeter were used. The analysis of the data, without assumptions about the reaction mechanism for the formation of the levels under study, is discussed. Unambiguous spin-parity assignments of J π = 6 +, 8 +, and limitations of (5, 6, 7) and (7, 8 +, 9) for the 38Ar levels at E x = 6408.3±0.2, 7609.3±0.3, 8012.9±0.3 and 10173.8±0.4 keV, respectively, are obtained. They are compared with results of shell-model calculations. Mixing ratios and spin-alignment attenuation factors for several transitions and levels in 38Ar and 35Cl are reported.