Low-energy (often < 100 eV) ion bombardment during thin film deposition is commonly used in such diverse application areas as microelectronics, optical coatings. magnetic recording layers. and hard wear resistant coatings to modify the microstructure and microchemistry of films deposited by a variety of techniques (e.g. sputtering, primary ion deposition, plasma-assisted CVD, and accelerated-beam MBE). Ion irradiation has been shown to affect every phase of deposition including nucleation and growth kinetics, crystal structure and phase stability, the average grain size and degree of preferred orientation of polycrystalline films, the epitaxial temperature of single-crystal films, defect concentrations, elemental incorporation probabilities, surface segregation, and, hence, film properties. As discussed in this brief review, a detailed understanding of many of these processes is beginning to emerge. Effects such as trapping, preferential sputtering, enhanced diffusion, and collisional mixing have been used to interpret and, in some cases, model experimental results. Nevertheless, there are still large gaps in our knowledge of the role of ion bombardment on fundamental processes such as nucleation kinetics.