Effects of Ag and Ti nanoparticle coatings on resonant Raman scattering in various ZnO thin films are presented. The longitudinal optical (LO) phonons, irrespective of the ZnO quality, exhibit an enhancement and a weakening by the Ag and Ti nanoparticle coatings, respectively. The enhancement (weakening) is always accompanied by a reduced (an increased) intensity ratio of the second to first-order LO phonons, which can be associated with changes in the electron-phonon coupling strength in the probed area of ZnO. Angle-resolved X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy provides evidence for the bending of the surface energy bands and their changes induced by the metal coatings. The effect of metal nanoparticle coatings on the Raman scattering of ZnO is thus attributed to the changes in the surface electric field. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.