One of the most critical aspects in the preparation of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs)/conducting polymer hybrid electrodes is to improve the energy density without seriously deteriorating their high power capability. Here, we report a "skeleton/skin" strategy for the preparation of free-standing, thin and flexible SWCNT/polyaniline (PANI) hybrid films by a simple in situ electrochemical polymerization method using directly grown SWCNT films with a continuous reticulate structure as template. In situ electrochemical polymerization can achieve effective deposition of PANI onto the surface of SWCNT bundles in the films and control the morphology and microstructure of the SWCNT/PANI hybrid films. In a SWCNT/PANI hybrid film, the directly grown SWCNT film with continuous reticulate architecture acts as the skeleton and PANI layers act as the skin. This unique continuous "skeleton/skin" structure ensures that these hybrid films have much higher conductivity compared to SWCNT/PANI composite films based on post-deposition SWCNT films. Flexible supercapacitors have been fabricated using the SWCNT/PANI hybrid films as both electrodes and charge collectors without metallic current collectors. High energy and power densities (131 W h kg -1 and 62.5 kW kg -1, respectively) have been achieved for the optimized assembly. The high electrical conductivity and flexibility, in combination with continuous porous architecture, suggests that the as-prepared ultrathin free-standing SWCNT/PANI hybrid films have significant potential as promising electrode materials for thin, lightweight and flexible energy storage devices with high performance. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.