Magnetite (Fe3O4) films and multilayers were grown using plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy and result in single-phase films grown in registry with a MgO substrate. No evidence of interdiffusion is detected on as-grown films. Both structural and magnetic probes indicate behaviors expected for a magnetite thin film. A thermal stability study of these films was performed by annealing these films under ultrahigh vacuum conditions at temperatures below 900 K. Bulk techniques such as x-ray diffraction, superconducting quantum interference device magnetometry, and energy dispersive spectroscopy confirm that the magnesium interdiffuses throughout the entire film, and surface techniques such as x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy/ion scattering spectroscopy show changes in the surface structure and stoichiometry of the film caused by the magnesium intermixing. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.