A study of the dewetting behavior of platinum-thin-films on silicon was carried out to determine how variation of dewetting parameters affects the evolution of film morphology and to pinpoint which parameters yielded the smallest, most circular features. Platinum film thickness as well as dewetting time and temperature were varied and the film morphology characterized by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis. Two different pathways of dewetting predicted in the literature (Vrij 1966 Discuss. Faraday Soc. 42 23, Becker et al 2003 Nat. Mater. 2 59-63) were observed. Depending on the initial criteria, restructuring of the film occurred via hole or droplet formation. With increased annealing time, a transition from an intermediate network structure to separated islands occurred. In addition, the formation of multilayered films, silicide crystals and nanowires occurred for certain parameters. Nevertheless, the dewetting behavior witnessed could be related to physical processes. Droplets with a mean diameter of 9 nm were formed by using a 1.5 nm thick platinum film annealed at 800 degrees C for 30 s. To demonstrate the suitability of the annealed films for further processing, we then used the dewetted films as masks for reactive ion etching to transfer the pattern into the silicon substrate, forming tapered nanopillars.