Magnetometric and magnetic force microscopy (MFM) measurements were performed on [Co(6 Å)/Au(27 Å)]27 multilayers grown at different sputtering pressures (0.8–9 Pa). All the as-prepared samples display perpendicular magnetic anisotropy that has its maximum value at intermediate pressures, while a monotonic decrease of the saturation magnetization was found with increasing pressure. As found by MFM, a relevant characteristic of these systems is the magnetic stripe domain structure. The application of the stripe domain model of Draaisma and de Jonge [H. J. G. Draaisma and W. J. M. de Jonge, J. Appl. Phys. 62, 3318 (1987)] allows us to satisfactorily reproduce the magnetization processes and to determine the anisotropy constants (Keff) starting from the domain width. The obtained Keff values display the same behavior and order of magnitude as those deduced from the area enclosed between parallel and perpendicular magnetization curves. The measurement of the stripe domain size with MFM thus results in an easy and reliable method for the evaluation of the anisotropy constants in multilayers with perpendicular anisotropy. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.