This study explores the electrochemical performance of Ni-Sn and Ni-Sn-C thin film anodes in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A new strategy of forming a Ni-Sn-C multilayered thin film is proposed here, where nickel-coated carbon powder is used as a source material to incorporate carbon atoms into the thin film in a controlled manner. Galvanostatic half-cell measurements demonstrated that the Ni-Sn thin film shows a gradually decreasing capacity with cycling, whereas the Ni-Sn-C thin film exhibits a longer cycle life with good capacity retention. The improved cycle performance of the Ni-Sn-C electrode is attributed to its high tolerance against electrode swelling, which is closely associated with the stress-buffering action of nickel and the homogeneous distribution on nanoparticles induced by carbon. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.