The stability of two-layer Couette flow is investigated under variations in viscosity ratio, thickness ratio, interfacial tension and density ratio. The effects of the base flow on eigenvalue spectra are explained. A new type of interfacial mode is discovered at low viscosity ratio with properties that are different from Yih’s original interfacial mode (Yih, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 27, 1967, pp. 337–352). No unstable Tollmien–Schlichting waves were found over the range of parameters considered in this work. The results for thin films with different thicknesses can be collapsed onto a single curve if the Reynolds number and wavenumber are suitably defined based on the parameters of the thin layer. Interfacial tension always has a stabilizing effect, but the effects of density ratio cannot be so easily generalized. Neutral stability curves for water–alkane and water–air systems are presented as an initial step towards better understanding the effects of flow stability on the longevity and performance of liquid-infused surfaces and superhydrophobic surfaces.