The range of applications for variable frequency microwave (VFM) facilities (2–18 GHz) has been extended to thermoplastic composites. Five thermoplastic polymer matrix composites are processed and discussed, including 33 wt-% random carbon fibre reinforced polystyrene [PS–CF (33%)], and low density polyethylene [LDPE–CF (33%)]; 33 wt-% random glass fibre reinforced polystyrene [PS–GF (33%)], low density polyethylene [LDPE–GF (33%)]and Nylon 66 [Nylon 66–GF (33%)]. Bond strengths of lap joints were tested in shear and results were compared with those obtained using fixed frequency (2·45 GHz) microwave processing. The primer or coupling agent used was a 5 min, two part adhesive containing 100%liquid epoxy and 8% amine, which was more readily microwave reactive than the composites themselves. The VFM was operated under software control, which provided automatic data logging facilities. Results indicate that VFM can produce strong bonds for PS and LDPE.