Spectroscopic and synthetic methods have been exploited to deduce the mechanism for acidic potassium permanganate chemiluminescence. We have employed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy with a continuous flow assembly to monitor the formation of radical intermediates in real time generated from substrate oxidation by manganese(VII). These transient species react with manganese(III) in solution to produce the previously characterized manganese(II)* emission source. Using UV-vis, EPR, attenuated total reflection (ATR)-FT-IR, and chemiluminescence spectroscopies, we have established that there are two distinct enhancement mechanisms that in combination afford a 50-fold increase in emission intensity when the reaction is conducted in the presence of phosphate oligomers. In addition to preventing disproportionation of the manganese(III) precursor, the phosphate oligomers form protective "cagelike" structures around the manganese(II)* emitter, thus preventing nonradiative relaxation pathways.