Abstract The interaction of cobalt with clean and sulfur covered Mo(100) surfaces was investigated with Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), low energy electron diffraction (LEED) and temperature programmed desorption (TPD). On the clean surface, the deposition and subsequent annealing of one monolayer of cobalt resulted in the formation of an ordered overlayer with (1 × 1) surface structure. When cobalt was deposited on sulfur covered Mo(100) surfaces, after annealing the sulfur overlayer migrated on top of the cobalt layer. This topmost sulfur overlayer did not significantly affect the thermal desorption of cobalt from the Mo(100) surface. Various ordered structures of sulfur, cobalt and coadsorbed sulfur and cobalt were observed by LEED. A new surface structure showing (3 × 1) symmetry was observed when at least one monolayer of cobalt was deposited and annealed at 870 K on an ordered monolayer of sulfur on the Mo(100) surface. This surface structure was stable in ultrahigh vacuum up to 940 K.