Pyrolytic-gas passivation (PGP) with a small amount nitrogen gas enhances the breakdown reliability of silicon oxide gate films. To clarify the reliability retention of the PGP-grown films oxidized at low temperature, densities (ρox’s) of the 3.5–6.5-nm-thick PGP-grown films on Si(100) oxidized at 700–900 °C were investigated. Since ρox’s correlate well with the reliability and are useful as an index of the intrinsic structural characteristics of the films. Moreover, changes in ρox and nitrogen content corresponding to oxidation temperature are similar to those in breakdown reliability and interface state density (Dit), respectively. In addition, ρox’s of the 700 °C-grown PGP films do not deteriorate as much when compared with those of the films grown by normal ultradry oxidation at 800 °C and their Dit’s are less than about 6×1010/eV cm2. This suggests that PGP probably improves the reliability by generating the higher-ρox microscopic structure with few Si dangling bonds and effective passivation. © 2004 American Vacuum Society.