Extending earlier studies on spark breakdown, the development of the impulse prebreakdown streamers leading to complete breakdown were investigated. By taking advantage of the proportionality between point potential and length of the positive Lichtenberg figure produced, the potential of the streamer tips progressing from a point anode towards a plane cathode were determined. It was found that the streamer tip potential decreases as streamer advances. At voltages much lower than sparking potential this decrease is rapid. By approaching the sparking potential the loss of tip potential diminishes considerably near the anode. The decrease of potential remains very rapid near the cathode until sparking potential is reached. At the cathode the tip potential increases with the applied potential. At a certain value electrons are emitted from the cathode under the influence of high tip fields. These electrons are accelerated towards the tips forming avalanches by collision. These avalanches appear on the photographic film as minute dots whose number and density depend on the intensity of tip fields. If the applied potential exceeds the sparking voltage, tip potentials are recorded on the cathode between 15 and 25 kV. The avalanches formed in the high intensity field region reach the critical size and form negative, anode — directed streamers. These streamers appear on the film as negative Lichtenberg figures. This ionising potential wave, known as return stroke, travels along the channel of the positive primary streamer. It increases its ionisation to such a degree that the main stroke can take place.