Since strain changes the interatomic spacing of matter and alters electron and phonon dispersion, an applied strain can modify the thermal conductivity k of a material. We show how the strain induced by heteroepitaxy is a passive mechanism to change k in a thin film. Molecular dynamics simulations of the deposition and epitaxial growth of ZnTe thin films provide insights into the role of interfacial strain in the conductivity of a deposited film. ZnTe films grow strain-free on latticematched ZnTe substrates, but similar thin films grown on a lattice-mismatched CdTe substrate exhibit 6% biaxial in-plane tensile strain and 7% uniaxial out-of-plane compressive strain. In the T ¼ 700 K–1100 K temperature range, the conductivities of strained ZnTe layers decrease to 60% of their unstrained values. The resulting understanding of dk/dT shows that strain engineering can be used to alter the performance of a thermal rectifier and also provides a framework for enhancing thermoelectric devices.