We investigated the wall-motion and nucleation activation volumes of Co/Pt multilayer films prepared by dc magnetron sputtering under various Ar sputtering pressures. Delicate analysis of time-resolved domain evolution patterns reveals that the nucleation activation volume is generally smaller than the wall-motion activation volume in all the samples, which is consistent with the nucleation-dominant magnetization reversal behavior observed in this system. Interestingly, the activation volume is found to decrease with increasing Ar pressure, despite a decreasing trend in saturation magnetization. Decreasing grain size with increasing Ar pressure, smaller than the typical size of a Co single domain, is believed to be the origin of the unexpected observation. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.