Thin-film lead–zirconate–titanate (PZT) capacitors with composition gradients normal to the substrate were fabricated via a novel technique using pulsed laser deposition. These capacitors exhibited large polarization offsets when driven by an alternating electric field. The direction of the offsets depended on the direction of the gradient with respect to the substrate. The largest offset, greater than 400 μC/cm2 when driven with a 50 V/μm field, was nearly an order of magnitude greater than any reported for other graded ferroelectric films. This difference is attributed to both the high spontaneous polarization of PZT and the high-quality films obtained by pulsed laser deposition. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.