Abstract The basic mechanical and structural properties, as well as the oxidation behaviour of Ti 1- x Al x N coatings sputtered at low temperature are reported. Ti 1- x Al x N coatings of four different compositions were sputter deposited in a Sputron (Balzers) plasma-beam sputtering apparatus at a temperature below 200°C. Polished tool steel discs, silicon wafers and polished alumina ceramics were used as substrates. Oxidation of coatings was carried out by heating the samples at temperatures of 700–900°C in an oxygen atmosphere for selected times. The surface and fracture cross-sectional morphology of the as-deposited and oxidized films were studied by scanning electron microscopy, while the structure of the coatings was examined by the XRD and TEM techniques.