Employing quantitative electron-paramagnetic resonance analysis and numerical simulations, we investigate the performance of thin-film polycrystalline silicon solar cells as a function of defect density. We find that the open-circuit voltage is correlated to the density of defects, which we assign to coordination defects at grain boundaries and in dislocation cores. Numerical device simulations confirm the observed correlation and indicate that the device performance is limited by deep defects in the absorber bulk. Analyzing the defect density as a function of grain size indicates a high concentration of intra-grain defects. For large grains (> 2 μ m), we find that intra-grain defects dominate over grain boundary defects and limit the solar cell performance.