Strains in cubic GaN films grown on GaAs (001) were measured by a triple-axis x-ray diffraction method. Residual strains in the as-grown epitaxial films were in compression, contrary to the predicted tensile strains caused by large lattice mismatch between epilayers and GaAs substrates (20%). It was also found that the relief of strains in the GaN films has a complicated dependence on the growth conditions. We interpreted this as the interaction between the lattice mismatch and thermal mismatch stresses. The fully relaxed lattice constants of cubic GaN are determined to be 4.5038 +/- 0.0009 Angstrom, which is in excellent agreement with the theoretical prediction of 4.503 Angstrom. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics. [S0021-8979(00)07918-4].