The Stransky–Krastanow metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy growth of self-organized ZnTe islands on homoepitaxial (001)GaAs is demonstrated. The −7.4% lattice mismatch of the ZnTe/GaAs heterostructure leads to a strain-driven distribution of nanoscale ZnTe islands on top of a two-dimensionally (2D) grown wetting layer. Atomic force microscopy and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry are used to determine the island dimensions and the thickness of the wetting layer. The density of the islands, their average diameter, and aspect ratio turn out to be about 520 μm−2, 13.6 nm, and 0.20, respectively, for a 1.2 ML thick 2D layer. Furthermore, the average aspect ratio of the islands decreases by increasing the thickness of the wetting layer, as expected by the progressive extinction of the strain-driven island nucleation. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.