Nanocrystalline Co2xNi0.5-xZn0.5-xFe2O4 (x=0-0.5) thin films have been synthesized with various grain sizes by a sol–gel method on polycrystalline silicon substrates. The morphology as well as magnetic and microwave absorption properties of the films calcined at 1073 K were studied using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and vibrating sample magnetometry. All films were uniform without microcracks. The Co content in the Co–Ni–Zn films resulted in a grain size ranging from 15 to 32 nm while it ranged from 33 to 49 nm in the corresponding powders. Saturation and remnant magnetization increased with increase in grain size, while coercivity demonstrated a drop due to multidomain behavior of crystallites for a given value of x. Saturation magnetization increased and remnant magnetization had a maximum as a function of grain size independent of x. In turn, coercivity increased with x independent of grain size. Complex permittivity of the Co–Ni–Zn ferrite films was measured in the frequency range 2–15 GHz. The highest hysteretic heating rate in the temperature range 315–355 K was observed in CoFe2O4. The maximum absorption band shifted from 13 to 11 GHz as cobalt content increased from x=0.1 to 0.2.