Zn 1-x Cd x O thin films have been prepared by sol-gel spin coating method. Structural analysis shows that the Cd substitution into the wutrzite ZnO lattice is achieved up to about 20 mol %. The optical band gap is found to decrease with the increase in Cd content. Increase in the annealing temperature up to a certain critical temperature leads to band gap narrowing because of the proper substitution of Zn by Cd and thereafter the band gap increases due to Cd re-evaporation from the lattice sites. This critical temperature lowers down with the increase in Cd doping concentration. The resistivity decreases with the increase in Cd content and increases with the increase in annealing temperature. © 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.