Poly(dimethylsiloxane) copolymers containing a small fraction of carboxylic acid or Zn-carboxylate groups were prepared and compared regarding reversible gelation by hydrogen-bonding and ion-pair interaction. The polymers were synthesized by condensation of a t-butylcarboxylate functionalized dichlorosilane with an α,ω-dihydroxy-poly(dimethylsiloxane), followed by thermal cleavage of the ester bond. Neutralization of the resulting carboxylic acid substituents was achieved by addition of Zn (acac)2. Reversible crosslinking was investigated by step stress and oscillating shear experiments. The carboxylic acid containing poly(dimethylsiloxane) became rubberlike upon increasing the temperature and liquified again when it was brought back to room temperature. This observation has been explained tentatively by segregation of the carboxylic acid groups into polar domains at high temperatures [i.e., a behavior like it is observed for systems with a lower critical solution temperature (LCST)]. At ambient temperature, the carboxylic acid groups undergo hydrogen bonding to the Si-O-Si backbone. Clustering of the carboxylic acid groups occurs only as these hydrogen bonds break upon raising temperature. Moisture was found to have a strong influence on the reversal of the crosslinking. Addition of zinc acetylacetonate resulted in the formation of an elastic network already at ambient conditions consistent with the concept of ionomers which undergo reversible gelation by formation of ion-pair multiplets and clusters in the hydrophobic polymer matrix in particularly at low temperatures. At high temperature, both the carboxylic acid and the carboxylate sample exhibited a rather similar viscoelastic behavior consistent with a common structure where transient crosslinks are formed by clusters of the carboxylic acid and the carboxylate groups. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.