The polishing removal rates of fused silica under 20 test conditions have been characterized by the resulting Preston coefficients and an inspection of surface quality using a Nomarski microscope and an optical heterodyne profilometer. Preston coefficient values of > 16 X 10-14 cm3/dyne-cm have been established, approximately a factor of 10 higher than cited previously. However, operational variables can reduce removal rates significantly. Process parameters are shown to have an effect on surface quality that has been related to surface deposits. The effects of chemical additives on removal rates were of special interest. Of importance here is not necessarily the introduction of such additives in practice. The results may improve our understanding of the chemistry of polishing.© (1992) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.