Metal-oxide polymer diodes exhibit non-volatile resistive switching. The current–voltage characteristics have been studied as a function of temperature. The low-conductance state follows a thermally activated behaviour. The high-conductance state shows a multistep-like behaviour and below 300 K an enormous positive temperature coefficient. This anomalous behaviour contradicts the widely held view that switching is due to filaments that are formed reversibly by the diffusion of metal atoms. Instead, these findings together with small-signal impedance measurements indicate that creation and annihilation of filaments is controlled by filling of shallow traps localized in the oxide or at the oxide/polymer interface.