The size and shape evolution of self-assembled InAs quantum dots (QDs) influenced by 2.0 ML InAs seed layer has been systematically investigated for 2.0, 2.5, and 2.9 ML deposition on GaAs(100) substrate. Based on comparisons with the formation of large incoherent InAs islands on single-layer samples at late growth stage, the larger coherent InAs quantum dots at 2.9 ML deposition has been observed on the second InAs layer. A simple model analysis accounting for the surface strain distribution influenced by buried islands gives a stronger increment of critical QD diameter for dislocation nucleation on the second layer in comparison with the single-layer samples. Additionally, the inhibition of dislocation nucleation in InGaAs/GaAs large islands can also be explained by our theoretical results. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics. [S0021-8979(00)08922-2].