The properties of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) deposited at very high growth rates (6–80 nm/s) by means of a remote Ar–H2–SiH4 plasma have been investigated as a function of the H2 flow in the Ar–H2 operated plasma source. Both the structural and optoelectronic properties of the films improve with increasing H2 flow, and a-Si:H suitable for the application in solar cells has been obtained at deposition rates of 10 nm/s for high H2 flows and a substrate temperature of 400 °C. The "optimized" material has a hole drift mobility which is about a factor of 10 higher than for standard a-Si:H. The electron drift mobility, however, is slightly lower than for standard a-Si:H. Furthermore, preliminary results on solar cells with intrinsic a-Si:H deposited at 7 nm/s are presented. Relating the film properties to the SiH4 dissociation reactions reveals that optimum film quality is obtained for conditions where H from the plasma source governs SiH4 dissociation and where SiH3 contributes dominantly to film growth. Conditions where ion-induced dissociation reactions of SiH4 prevail and where the contribution of SiH3 to film growth is much smaller lead to inferior film properties. A large contribution of very reactive (poly)silane radicals is suggested as the reason for this inferior film quality. Furthermore, a comparison with film properties and process conditions of other a-Si:H deposition techniques is presented.