The persistence of acoustic cavitation in a pulsed wave ultrasound regime depends upon the ability of cavitation nuclei, i.e., bubbles, to survive the off time between pulses. Due to the dependence of bubble dissolution on surface tension, surface-active agents may affect the stability of bubbles against dissolution. In this study, measurements of bubble dissolution rates in solutions of the surface-active polymer poly(propyl acrylic acid) (PPAA) were conducted to test this premise. The surface activity of PPAA varies with solution pH and concentration of dissolved polymer molecules. The surface tension of PPAA solutions (55–72 dynes/cm) that associated with the polymer surface activity was measured using the Wilhelmy plate technique. Samples of these polymer solutions then were exposed to 1.1 MHz high intensity focused ultrasound, and the dissolution of bubbles created by inertial cavitation was monitored using an active cavitation detection scheme. Analysis of the pulse echo data demonstrated that bubble dissolution time was inversely proportional to the surface tension of the solution. Finally, comparison of the experimental results with dissolution times computed from the Epstein–Plesset equation suggests that the radii of residual bubbles from inertial cavitation increase as the surface tension decreases. © 2004 Acoustical Society of America.