ZnO:Ni films with different doping concentrations （0—7at.%） have been deposited by radio frequency magnetron sputtering. The results of x-ray diffraction, including θ-2θ mode and rocking curve mode, indicate that the film doped with 5at.% Ni shows an excellent preferred growth along c-axis orientation. The （002） diffraction peak shifts to a larger angle, which implies that Ni atoms are incorporated into the ZnO lattice. For ZnO:Ni films with good transparency in the visible range, the optical band gap evaluated by the fitting method decreases linearly from 3.272 to 3.253 eV with increasing Ni concentration. Undoped ZnO film exhibits a green emission peak and Ni-doped ZnO films mainly emit a blue photoluminescence centred at 430 nm, we believe that they might be ascribed to crystal defects of oxygen vacancies and interstitial zinc, respectively.