This paper reviews the recent advances in the use of thin films, mostly epitaxial, for fundamental studies of materials for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) applications. These studies include the influence of film microstructure, crystal orientation and strain in oxide ionic conducting materials used as electrolytes, such as fluorites, and in mixed ionic and electronic conducting materials used as electrodes, typically oxides with perovskite or perovskite-related layered structures. The recent effort towards the enhancement of the electrochemical performance of SOFC materials through the deposition of artificial film heterostructures is also presented. These thin films have been engineered at a nanoscale level, such as the case of epitaxial multilayers or nanocomposite cermet materials. The recent progress in the implementation of thin films in SOFC devices is also reported. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.