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The magnetization reversal in four arrays of micron-size circular holes (antidots) in a Permalloy film has been studied by means of quantitative magneto-optic Kerr vector magnetometry and magnetic force microscopy. The primitive antidot meshes of the arrays investigated here can be classified as square, rectangular, hexagonal, and oblique. The vector magnetometry data show that the hole arrays induce a magnetic anisotropy completely different from that of the unpatterned film, with new hard axes along the directions connecting nearest neighboring holes. Also the coercive field is strongly affected by the pattern. The results of the vector magnetometry analysis indicate that the reversal process takes place through a collective and periodic domain nucleation and expansion process. The domain structure in the remanent state has been investigated by magnetic force microscopy imaging. The images display well-defined domain structures, which are periodic and commensurate with the holes array. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.