The growth of ferroelectric lead zirconate titanate (PZT) films by rf-sputtering using a facing targets geometry is described. This study focuses on the influence of the substrate on PZT thin film composition, structure, and electrical properties. The deposition temperatures ranged from room temperature to 700 °C and the process gas was a mixture of argon and oxygen. Effects of deposition conditions and post-deposition annealing on film composition, microstructure, and properties were evaluated using Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy (RBS), x-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, and measurements of the permittivity and polarization. The microstructure, composition, and permittivity of the films were found to be strongly dependent on the substrate temperature and on the preparation history of the films. © 1992, Materials Research Society. All rights reserved.