We have constructed a three-configurational surface magneto-optical Kerr effect system, which provides the simultaneous measurements of the "polar," "longitudinal," and "transverse" Kerr hysteresis loops at the position where deposition is carried out in an ultrahigh vacuum growth chamber. The present system enables in situ three-dimensional vectorial studies of ultrathin film magnetism with a submonolayer sensitivity. We present three-configurational hysteresis loops measured during the growth of Co films on Pd(111), glass, and Pd/glass substrates. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics. [S0034-6748(00)05310-7].