Mechanical effects in the peel strength of a thin film have been studied both experi- mentally and theoretically. It has been found that the adhesion strength measured by the peel test is a practical adhesion (an engineering strength per unit width) and does not represent the true interface adhesion strength. The measured value may represent a multiplication of the true interface adhesion and other work expended in the plastic deformation of the thin film. The contribution of the latter to the peel strength is found to be, sometimes, of the order of 100 times higher than the former. It is found that the major controlling factors in the peel strength are the thickness, Young's modulus, the yield strength, the strain hardening coefficient of the film, and the compliance of the substrate as well as the interface adhesion strength. Even though the true interface adhesion strength is the same, a higher peel strength is obtained if the film is thinner or more ductile under the test conditions reported in this paper. The same effect can be obtained if the substrate is thinner in the case where the substrate is a soft elastic material, or if the substrate is thicker in the case where the substrate is a rigid material. © 1989 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.