Cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanocrystalline semiconductor thin films have been synthesized by electrodeposition at controlled potential based in the electrochemical reduction process of molecular selenium in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) solution. The nucleation and growth mechanism of this process has been studied. The XRD pattern shows a characteristic polycrystalline hexagonal wurtzite structure with a slight (1 0 1 0) crystallographic preferred orientation. The crystallite size of nanocrystalline CdSe thin films can be simply controlled by the electrodeposition potential. A quantum size effect is deduced from the correlation between the band gap energy and the crystallite size.