Cr:ZnSe thin films were grown by molecular-beam epitaxy with the long-term goal of demonstrating a route for the development of transitional-metal-doped semiconductor lasers. Photoluminescence (PL) and PL lifetime measurements of doped thin films and bulk crystals indicate that Cr is incorporated in the optically active Cr2+ state up to levels of 5× 1019 cm-3. The shape of PL spectra and lifetime measurements of doped thin films compares favorably with that reported for bulk samples. A microcavity formed by film interfaces is responsible for differences in spontaneous emission observed between films and bulk crystals. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.