An electron spin resonance study of phosphoranyl radicals, generated by u.v. irradiation of solutions containing a trialkylphosphite and a dialkylperoxide, enabled us to examine the influence of steric and electronic factors on radical formation. It was demonstrated that the influence of steric factors, such as a- or ß-branching of the alkyl groups, on the magnitude of radical formation was present in both trialkyl- and methyldialkylphosphites, but not in dimethylalkylphosphites. Furthermore, the study of additional hetero atoms in the alkyl ligand of the dimethylalkylphosphites clearly revealed the influence of the gauche-effect. It was demonstrated that the presence of the gauche-effect, which causes a conformational preference in which a larger steric hindrance is produced, resulted in a decrease of radical formation.