A survey of 1,000 teachers by pollsters NOP found just 17 per cent of those eligible to cross the threshold onto the Government's proposed new pay scale said they would apply to do so. More than half - 55 per cent - said they would not, with the rest unsure.
Ministers were hoping opposition to performance-related pay would collapse if individual members take the money when the system is introduced next spring.
Teachers who meet the stringent standards for crossing the threshold will get a 10 per cent pay rise and move onto a pay scale rising to more than pound;35,000 with responsibility points.
Most said they would not apply to cross the threshold because it would be unfair. Opposition was strongest in London, where more than 60 per cent teachers thought it would not be fair.
Some 18 per cent of all teachers condemned it as payment by results, and 16 per cent said colleagues would resent them if they applied for the rise.
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, which commissioned the survey, said: "It shows that teachers are extremely cool, even icy, towards the prospect of a pound;2,000 pay rise if the equation includes payment by pupil results."
Opinion was evenly divided among two groups: the under-34s and those still to hit the current pay ceiling of pound;23,000, suggesting that the pay structure may succeed in future. Around a third of each group said they would apply to cross the threshold, roughly equal to the numbers who opposed it.
In Wales ministers are having a harder time getting the message across. Only 75 per cent of teachers in the principality had heard of the threshold, compared to more than 90 per cent in England.
A spokesman for Education Secretary David Blunkett said: "We're confident that when they realise that 220,000 teachers are eligible and that more than half will benefit, they will want to be assessed for the pound;2,000 increase."