Abstract Molybdenum and titanium films prepared with a rotating r.f. diode system were examined by X-ray diffraction for strain and texture. Both films were deposited onto (111)-oriented silicon crystal substrates. Molybdenum films 1.13 μm thick sputtered with a target voltage of -2.7 kV, a zero substrate bias and an average temperature of 180°C were in compression on cooling to room temperature. Pole density plots for the (200), (211), (220), (222), (301) and (321) planes gave relatively sharp peaks. The (220) plane showed a strong peak parallel to the (111) plane on silicon. In contrast, a 1.25 μm titanium film was found to be in tension after sputtering at -2.7 kV, a substrate bias of -50 V and an average temperature of 180°C. Relatively broad pole density plots were found for the (002) and (110) planes. The (100) and (110) planes gave peaks parallel to (111) Si. Intrinsic strains from embedded argon were determined from χ scan X-ray data.