Carbon fibers (CFs) were prepared by the plasma-assisted stabilization (PAS) of polyacronitrile (PAN) fibers. PAS was found to be an efficient treatment for stabilizing the precursor fibers in terms of the time, cost and mechanical properties compared to conventional thermal stabilization (CTS). The efficient stabilization of PAN by a radio-frequency capacitive plasma discharge was confirmed using FT-IR and DSC. The tensile strength and modulus of CFs from PAS were superior to those of CFs from CTS. These results suggest that PAS is an efficient treatment for the manufacture of CFs, which can save time and energy. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.