ZnO thin films grown on Si(1 1 1) substrates by using atomic layer deposition (ALD) were annealed at the temperatures ranging from 300 to 500 °C. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) results show that the annealed ZnO thin films are highly (0 0 2)-oriented, indicating a well ordered microstructure. The film surface examined by the atomic force microscopy (AFM), however, indicated that the roughness increases with increasing annealing temperature. The photoluminescence (PL) spectrum showed that the intensity of UV emission was strongest for films annealed at 500 °C. The mechanical properties of the resultant ZnO thin films investigated by nanoindentation reveal that the hardness decreases from 9.2 GPa to 7.2 GPa for films annealed at 300 °C and 500 °C, respectively. On the other hand, the Young's modulus for the former is 168.6 GPa as compared to a value of 139.5 GPa for the latter. Moreover, the relationship between the hardness and film grain size appear to follow closely with the Hall-Petch equation.