Résumé : The mechanical response of thin metallic films is simulated using a two-dimensional strain gradient plasticity finite-element model involving grain boundaries in order to investigate the effect of the thickness, grain shape and surface constraint on the strength, ductility and back-stress. The grain boundaries and surface layers are modeled as initially impenetrable to dislocations while allowing for relaxation at a critical stress level. The model captures the variation of the strength with grain size, film thickness, and with the presence or not of constraining surface layers, in agreement with experimental results on Al and Cu films. A decrease in the uniform elongation is predicted with decreasing film thickness due to a loss of strain-hardening capacity and the possible presence of imperfections. These two effects dominate over the stabilizing contribution of the plastic strain gradients. Accounting for the relaxation of the interface constraint affects the magnitude of the back-stress as well as the drop in ductility. © 2010 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.