A polymer-matrix nanocomposite containing copper particles has been prepared by in situ chemical reduction within a Cu2+-poly(itaconic acid-co-acrylic acid) complex solid film. The copper particle size in the order of 10 nm is controlled by the initial content of the metal ions in the complex. Their fractal pattern and the value of the fractal dimension indicate that there exists a cluster-cluster aggregation process in the present system. Optical absorption spectra of copper-polymer nanocomposites show distinct plasma absorption bands and quantum size effect in the samples. The calculated blueshift of the resonance peak based on a quantum-sphere model gives remarkable agreement with the experimental data as the size of copper particles embedded in the polymer becomes smaller. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.