The effect of oxygen partial pressure (PO2) on polarity and crystalline quality of AlN films grown on nitrided a-plane sapphire substrates by pulsed direct current (DC) reactive sputtering was investigated as a fundamental study. The polarity inversion of AlN from nitrogen (-c)-polarity to aluminum (+c)-polarity occurred during growth at a high PO2 of 9.4×103 Pa owing to Al-O octahedral formation at the interface of nitrided layer and AlN sputtered film which reset the polarity of AlN. The top part of the 1300 nm-thick AlN film sputtered at the high PO2 was polycrystallized. The crystalline quality was improved owing to the high kinetic energy of Al sputtered atom in the sputtering phenomena. Thinner AlN films were also fabricated at the high PO2 to eliminate the polycrystallization. For the 200 nm-thick AlN film sputtered at the high PO2, the full width at half-maximum values of the AlN (0002) and (10-12) X-ray diffraction rocking curves were 47 and 637 arcsec, respectively.