The ZnO films were deposited on Si substrate by radio frequency (RF) magnetron sputtering. The effects of the Ar/O2 ratios on the structural characteristics and the internal stress in the ZnO films have been studied. The SEM images shows that the ZnO grains are nano-sized and tightly packed. The ZnO films are highly c-axis oriented with the (002) plane parallel to the substrate. The samples has a stress of the order of 1.0 × 1010 dyn/cm2. It is found that the size of ZnO crystal grains distinctly depends on the stress in the ZnO films. In order to deposite ZnO films with good crystalline quality, the stress caused by the growth process can be depressed by adjusting the Ar/O2 ratios.