This paper reports on structural, optical, vibrational, and morphological properties of cobalt-doped CdS thin films, prepared by 90 keV Co+ implantation at room temperature. In this work, we have used cobalt concentration in the range of 0.34-10.8 at. %. Cobalt doping does not lead to the formation of any secondary phase, either in the form of metallic clusters or impurity complexes. However, with increasing cobalt concentration a decrease in the optical band gap, from 2.39 to 2.26 eV, is observed. This reduction is addressed on the basis of band tailing due to the creation of localized energy states in association with Urbach energy calculations. In addition, implantation gives rise to grain growth and increase in the surface roughness. Size and shape fluctuations of individual CdS grains, at higher fluences, give rise to inhomogeneity in strain. The results are discussed in the light of ion-matter interaction in the keV regime. © 2009 American Institute of Physics.