Zn1-xCdxO (x= 0.00, 0.05, 0.10, 0.15 and 0.20) thin films were obtained by spray pyrolysis and characterized by XRD, SEM, EDAX and optical measurements. The Zn1-xCdxO microrods are in the wurtzite crystallographic phase with (0 0 2) preferred orientation. A narrowing of the fundamental band gap from 3.30 to 3.10 eV was observed with the increasing nominal Cd content up to 20 at% due to the direct modulation of the band gap caused by Cd substitution. The undoped ZnO film showed two emission bands in the spectra: one sharp UV luminescence at ∼382 nm and one broad visible emission ranging from 430 to 600 nm. The sharp peak at ∼382 nm is split into two at 376 and 400 nm upon Cd doping at levels of 5 and 10 at%. However this splitting is not observed in the doped ZnO samples containing 15 at% Cd and more. It should also be mentioned that the broad peak at the range of 430-600 nm has almost disappeared in the films containing 5, 10 and 15 at% Cd. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.