Aluminum nitride is a ceramic compound with many technological applications in many fields, for example optics, electronics and resonators. Contaminants play a crucial role in the AlN performance. This paper focuses mainly in the effect of oxygen when AlN, with O impurities in its structure, is grown on oxidized layers. In this study, AlN thin films have been deposited at room temperature and low residual vacuum on SiO2/Si (1 0 0) substrates. AlN films were grown by DC reactive magnetron sputtering (aluminum target) and atmosphere composed by an argon/nitrogen mixture. Working pressure was 3 mTorr. Film characterization was performed by AES, XRD, SEM, EDS, FTIR, HRTEM, SAED and band-bending method. Our results show that oxidized interlayer imposes compressive stresses to AlN layer, developing a polycrystalline deposition. Indeed, when film thickness is over 900 nm, influence of oxidized interlayer diminishes and crystallographic orientation changes to the (0 0 0 2) one, i.e., columnar structure, and stress relief is induced (there is a transition from compressive to tensile stress). Also, we propose a growth scenario to explain this behaviour.