Thin films of perovskite manganite La0.7Ca0.3MnO3 were grown epitaxially on SrTiO3(100), MgO(100) and LaAlO3(100) substrates by the pulsed laser deposition method. Microscopic structures of these thin film samples as well as a bulk sample were fully determined by x-ray diffraction measurements. The unit cells of the three films have different shapes, i.e., contracted tetragonal, cubic, and elongated tetragonal for SrTiO3, MgO, and LaAlO3, respectively, while the unit cell of the bulk is cubic. It is found that the samples with a cubic unit cell show smaller peak magnetoresistance at low fields (≲1 T) than the noncubic ones do. The present result demonstrates that the magnetoresistance of La0.7Ca0.3MnO3 at low fields can be controlled by lattice distortion via externally imposed strains. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.