In this paper we underline the role played by octadecylthiols as adhesion promoters on the elastic relaxation of a compressively-prestressed (0.8%) In0.65Ga0.35As thin film stuck on Apiezon-W wax. Surface morphologies by Nomarski Optical Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy reveal drastic changes when octadecylthiols are involved in the sticking process. In the “no-thiol” case, the surface morphology displays closely joined regularly distributed undulations (wavelength ≈4.8 μm, height ≈0.18 μm). On the contrary, in the “thiol” case, the wrinkling looks like a large-meshed wire lattice [wire–wire distance ≈(10–40 μm), height ≈0.4 μm]. These thiol-induced changes in morphology are explained as due to an energy compromise between relaxing the film stress on the one hand and stressing the self-assembled monolayer organization at the wax/film interface on the other hand. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.