The rotational isomeric state model was employed to provide a better understanding of the role of chain microstructure on the conformational behavior of homogeneous ethylene-l-olefin copolymers. The chain microstructure was assembled in accordance with the copolymerization theory using a set of conditional probabilities in direct relation to the reactivity ratios and the feed compositions of the comonomers. The catalytic inversion influence on the tacticity of the polymeric microstructure was also taken into account by considering the replication probability during the Monte Carlo simulation. Statistical weight factors of the rotational isomeric states were evaluated using molecular dynamics runs of the various homopolymers according to the earlier work of Mattice et al. Probability distribution surfaces constructed by the integration of the molecular dynamics trajectories of sufficient length to sample all of the conformational space indicated the increase of the probability of g(+/-)t joint states at the expense of g(+/-)g(+/-) pairs with the increase in the side chain length of the 1-olefin comonomers. It was also indicated that this behavior had a maximum around poly(1-butene)/poly(1-hexene) with an apparent reversal in case of poly(1-octene) due to the side chain crowding, which forces the chain to favor more of the g(+/-)g(+/-) joint states. The characteristic ratios calculated for the copolymers on the basis of the rotational isomeric state model also indicated the increased extension of the polymer backbone with the increase in the side chain length. The lower characteristic ratio calculated for the octene polymers may, in fact, explain the experimental observation that poly(1-octene) has a lower melting point than those of other poly(1-olefins of shorter side chains. A complete account of the role of tacticity on the characteristic ratio and the radial distribution function is also given. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.