The effect of internal stresses on the cohesion and adhesion of a thin silicon oxide (SiOx) oxygen-barrier coating, evaporated on a poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) film substrate was studied. Internal stresses were generated during annealing in the temperature range for recrystallization of the PET,during calendering in a multilayer structure where two SiOx/PET films were laminated together with a polypropylene film, and during long-term thermal aging below the glass transition temperature of the polymer. The cohesion of the coating and its adhesion to the polymer substrate were derived from fragmentation tests, in which the failure of the oxide coating was analyzed as a function of the applied stress during uniaxial tensile loading of the substrate. The intrinsic coating strength at critical length and the interfacial shear strength were found to be equal to 1350 MPa and 73 MPa, respectively. It was found that none of the thermal treatments investigated altered the interfacial interactions. Rather, these treatments induced shrinkage of the PET substrate, which increased the coating internal compressive stress and the SiOx/PET interfacial shear strength. A linear relationship between the SiOx/PET interfacial shear strength and the coating internal stress was determined from a stress transfer analysis. The coefficient of this linear relationship, equal to-1.34 · h c/l c, where h cis coating thickness and l cis the critical stress transfer length, reproduces the experimental data with good accuracy.