Bi3Fe5O12 films were deposited onto single crystal Gd3Ga5O12(111) substrates by pulsed laser deposition. X-ray diffraction patterns and cross sectional transmission electron micrographs show epitaxial film growth and a flat interface between the film and substrate. However, there are small inclusions at the interface and a network of cracks is observed by optical microscope. The refractive index is 3.4 at 800 nm wavelength. The optical transmission is low below 540 nm but increases to 90% for a 1.8 μm thick film at 850 nm. The magneto-optical Faraday rotation is high, with a peak value of -24 deg/μm at 560 nm. The angle of Faraday ellipticity reaches a maximum value of 15 deg/μm at 545 nm. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.