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A theoretical and experimental investigation of instability phenomena in synthesized plasmas is carried out. In the theoretical analysis the space charge and potential distributions are obtained for an idealized one‐dimensional model. The model consists of two face‐to‐face electrodes each emitting ions and electrons in any ratio and with a Maxwellian velocity distribution. The calculations show that no stable zero‐field solution is possible; instead, distributions with either a potential maximum or minimum in the center are obtained. For a range of values of the ratio β of injected ion to electron space‐charge density near unity (0.81 ≤β≪1.235), double‐valued solutions to the problem are obtained. The actual solution into which the system settles depends on whether this range of β values is approached from above or below. Transitions from one such state to the other can occur at the limits of this β range. In the experimental investigation of a synthesized plasma, these instabilities, or state‐to‐state transitions, were found to be in good agreement with the theory. Oscillations triggered by state‐to‐state transitions were observed with a frequency corresponding to the ion transit time through the interelectrode space. These oscillations are not described by the steady‐state analysis.