Abstract The spray pyrolysis has been one of the most major techniques to deposit a wide variety of materials in a thin film form, because it is easy to handle and it is suitable to be scaled up to industrialization. Transparent TiO 2 and Fe doped TiO 2 thin films were prepared by spray pyrolysis deposition in this work. The crystalline phase and surface morphology of the TiO 2 thin films were characterized by X-ray powder diffraction and Scanning Electronic Microscopy (SEM), and the ultraviolet–visible spectra of the films were measured. The hydrophilicity of the resulting films was evaluated by contact angle with water. The results showed that Fe doping could enhance water spreading on the thin film surface after Xe lamp irradiation. The role of Fe doping could be due to the decreases in the band gap of the TiO 2 thin films after Fe doping, and the increase in the ability of the films to absorb photon energy in visible spectrum.