Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of poly(propylene glycol) porogen from poly(methylsilsesquioxane) (PMSSQ) cured to temperatures adequate to initiate matrix condensation, but still below the decomposition temperature of the porogen, is demonstrated to produce nanoporous, ultralow-dielectric-constant thin films. Both closed and open cell porous structures were prepared simply by varying the porogen load in the organic/inorganic hybrid films. 25 and 55 wt % porogen loads were investigated in the present work. Structural characterization of the samples conducted using transmission electron microscope, small angle x-ray scattering, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, confirms the extraction of the porogen from the PMSSQ matrix at relatively low temperatures (⩽200 °C). The standard thermal decomposition process is performed at much higher temperatures (typically in the range of 400 °C–450 °C). The values of dielectric constants and refractive indices measured are in good agreement with the structural properties of these samples. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.