The initial stage of decomposition of homogenized Cu-1.7 at% Fe at 722 K was investigated by means of field ion microscopy (FIM), atom probe tomography (APT) and computer-assisted field ion image tomography (cFIIT). The agglomeration of atoms depending on time could be investigated and the growth of precipitates with a diameter of few nanometers was observed during ongoing nucleation. For the cFIIT measurements, an improved reconstruction algorithm was developed. Employing cFIIT in combination with FIM images, alignments of precipitates mainly in < 100 > directions were found. Besides, a general experimental concept to evaluate strain-related effects on the position of the proximate precipitate will be introduced. These analyses of the APT and cFIIT data show tendencies of a preferred < 100 > directed configuration as well. This effect can be associated with the elastic anisotropy of the Cu matrix (f.c.c.) to accommodate the volume misfit of precipitates. In accordance with previous model calculations, a preferred nucleation in < 100 > directions with respect to existing clusters can be concluded. For such cluster arrangements strain energy reduction is largest for precipitates adapting their sizes. Thus, additional stabilization against coarsening can be inferred for < 100 > alignments which result in the observed effects. (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V.