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The capacitance of a metal-insulator-metal system with the presence of a space charge in the insulator has been derived under various conditions. On the basis of the transient behavior of the capacitance as a function of the applied voltage and temperature, trap parameters in an insulator can be determined. Polyimide films were used to demonstrate the use of this capacitance transient spectroscopy for the determination of the concentrations of the originally existing traps as well as the new traps created by dissociative trapping of carriers injected from the electrical contact at high fields. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.