Poly(vinyl acetate) latices were prepared in the presence of an ammonium persulfate initiator, 10-50 mol of an ethoxylated nonylphenol nonionic emulsifier, and a poly(vinyl alcohol) colloid stabilizer by applying semicontinuous emulsion polymerization (delayed monomer and initiator addition process) in a laboratory scale similar to industrial practice. Two approaches were applied: the molar concentration of the nonionic emulsifier was kept constant and the weight ratios in the polymerization recipe varied or the weight ratios were kept constant. The effects of the change in the ethoxylation degree of the emulsifier to the final latex viscosity, average polymer molecular weight, polymer grafting degree, surface tension of the latex, and the surface free energy of the dried films were investigated. It was determined that the resultant latex viscosity decreases and the viscosity-average polymer molecular weight increases with increase of the nonionic emulsifier ethoxylation degree. The increase of the ethoxylation degree does not seriously affect the surface tension of the resultant latex or the surface free energy of the dried poly(vinyl acetate) films. (C) 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.