The presence of impurities in the precursor metal carboxylate solutions for the preparation of epitaxial thin films by metal organic decomposition (MOD) is substantially avoided by the use of acid anhydrides. In particular, trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA) was used for the synthesis of the starting Y, Ba and Cu trifluoroacetates used in YBa2Cu3O7-x (YBCO) preparation by the MOD process. In this way, highly stable organometallic precursors and a short pyrolysis process could be used leading to YBCO films with high critical currents (Jc ≥2-4 MA cm -2 at 77 K). Furthermore, the reproducibility of the results has been ascertained. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.