We report the activation field characteristics of (La,Sr)CoO3/Pb(Nb,Zr,Ti)O3/(La,Sr)CoO3 capacitors with areas varying from 13 to 9600 μm2. Switching properties such as maximum current and switching time depend on the capacitor area and measuring circuit elements, but the activation field is independent of capacitor area and measuring circuit parameters. Area independence of activation fields is also confirmed in (Pb,La)(Zr,Ti)O3 thin film capacitors. Two different approaches have been used to determine the activation field, yielding similar results. It is concluded that activation field is an intrinsic property and is a good quantitative measure of the ferroelectric switching properties. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.