The growth and chemical reactivity of Pt on Au(111) have been studied using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and temperature programmed desorption (TPD). Deposition of Pt at coverages from 0.02 ML up to 2.5 ML on Au(111) at room temperature initially leads to the formation of a surface alloy, in which 3% of the Au atoms are replaced by Pt. Subsequent Pt evaporation leads to island growth with a mixed Pt-Au island composition. The reactivity of the Pt/Au system is studied using CO as a probe molecule. We show that a stronger bonding of CO to the first layer of Pt on Au(111) exists compared with the binding of CO on clean Pt. The Au substrate therefore very surprisingly increases the Pt overlayer reactivity. The results can be understood in a simple model, in which the change in the CO binding energy is directly proportional to the shift of the d-band center of the metal overlayer. According to this model, the increased reactivity of the Pt/Au(111) system should hold for other adsorbates and reactions as well. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.