To fully explore the influences of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) on the properties of sweet-potato-starch (SPS)-based films, five SFAs were chosen to add to SPS. The SPS-based films were prepared by casting. The microstructure, mechanical, optical, water vapor barrier, and thermal properties of the films were investigated. The 2.0% (w/w, on the basis of starch) SFA significantly changed the SPS pasting characteristics in the peak viscosity, breakdown, and other feature point viscosity values as determined by a Rapid Visco Analyser. The amylose molecular weights decreased as measured by high-performance size exclusion chromatography. A thermal study with differential scanning calorimetry suggested that the addition of SFA increased the onset temperature and peak temperature. Scanning electronic microscope (SEM) images showed a continuous and uniform structure in the films with SFA. The SPS–SFA composite films showed lower light transmission and elongation at break than the control. Compared with the control films, the addition of SFA increased the tensile strength and decreased the water vapor permeability of the films. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2015, 132, 41380.