Sodium polyphosphate is commonly used to enhance chemiluminescence reactions with acidic potassium permanganate through a dual enhancement mechanism, but commercially available polyphosphates vary greatly in composition. We have examined the influence of polyphosphate composition and concentration on both the dual enhancement mechanism of chemiluminescence intensity and the stability of the reagent under analytically useful conditions. The average chain length (n) provides a convenient characterisation, but materials with similar values can exhibit markedly different distributions of phosphate oligomers. There is a minimum polyphosphate chain length (∼6) required for a large enhancement of the emission intensity, but no further advantage was obtained using polyphosphate materials with much longer average chain lengths. Providing there is a sufficient average chain length, the optimum concentration of polyphosphate is dependent on the analyte and in some cases, may be lower than the quantities previously used in routine detection. However, the concentration of polyphosphate should not be lowered in permanganate reagents that have been partially reduced to form high concentrations of the key manganese(III) co-reactant, as this intermediate needs to be stabilised to prevent formation of insoluble manganese(IV).