The room temperature resistive switching behavior in 50 keV O+-ion irradiated TiO2-x layers at an ion fluence of 5 × 1016 ions cm-2 is reported. A clear transformation from columnar to layered polycrystalline films is revealed by transmission electron microscopy with increasing ion fluence, while the complementary electron energy loss spectroscopy suggests an evolution of oxygen vacancy (OV) in TiO2-x matrix. This is further verified by determining electron density with the help of x-ray reflectivity. Both local and device current-voltage measurements illustrate that the ion-beam induced OVs play a key role in bistable resistive switching mechanism. © 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd.