VCDs (Video Compact Discs) are the smaller cousin to DVDs. VCDs use standard CDs and can be created using a standard CD recorder. Most DVD players can play VCDs. VCDs can hold only a fraction of the amount of footage that a DVD can. VCD also has support for menus and chapters similar to DVD.

The VCD format uses MPEG-1 video at a constant 1150 kbits per second and MPEG-1 Layer II audio at 44100 Hz and a constant 224 kbits per second. VCDs come in two flavors, one for PAL television and one for NTSC television. The PAL format is 25 frames per second with 352×288 pixel frames; NTSC uses 29.97 frames per second with 352×240 pixel frames. The maximum overall data rate is 1374 kbits per second, which was chosen to allow single speed CD drives to play back VCDs. 74 and 80 minute CDs may thus hold about 74 and 80 minutes of video respectively. The quality of VCDs has been compared to VHS cassette tapes.

Some DVD players allow for MP3 audio and other non-standard VCD extensions (XVCDs) but these will be incompatible with many DVD players.

See also SVCDs which can also be created using a standard CD recorder offering higher quality but lacking support on many standalone DVD players.