Abstract The atomic structure of the clean Si(100) and K covered surfaces has been investigated by Auger electron diffraction (AED) monitoring the intensities along polar scans. This technique is sensitive to the asymmetric-dimer nature of the 2 × 1 reconstruction of the Si(001) surface. Data taken at room temperature for submonolayer coverages are consistent with adsorption of K on the troughs (cave position) existing between two consecutive dimer chains along the  direction. At 110 K both dimer and cave sites are occupied. A mild annealing to 300 K produces an overlayer redistribution in favor of the “cave” site further indicating that this site is energetically favoured as found in some recent calculations.