Abstract The growth of Pt nanoclusters on thin film Al 2O 3 grown on NiAl(1 0 0) was studied by using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). The samples were prepared by vapor depositing various amounts of Pt onto the Al 2O 3/NiAl(1 0 0) at different substrate temperatures in ultra high vacuum (UHV). The STM images show that sizeable Pt nanoclusters grow solely on crystalline Al 2O 3 surface. These Pt clusters appear to be randomly distributed and only a few form evident alignment patterns, contrasting with Co clusters that are highly aligned on the crystalline Al 2O 3. The size distributions of these Pt clusters are rather broader than those of the Co clusters on the same surface and the sizes are evidently smaller. With increasing coverage or deposition temperature, the number of larger clusters is enhanced, while the size of the majority number of the clusters remains around the same (0.4 nm as height and 2.25 nm as diameter), which differs drastically from the Pt clusters on γ-Al 2O 3/NiAl(1 1 0) observed earlier. These Pt cluster growth features are mostly attributed to smaller diffusion length and ease to form stable nucleus, arising from strong Pt–Pt and Pt–oxide interactions and the peculiar protrusion structures on the ordered Al 2O 3/NiAl(1 0 0). The thermal stability of Pt nanoclusters was also examined. The cluster density decreased monotonically with annealing temperature up to 1000 K at the expense of smaller clusters but coalescence is not observed.