The growth of thin Pb layers ( less than 12 monolayers) was studied in ultrahigh vacuum by high energy ion scattering/channeling, low energy electron diffraction (LEED), and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES). Deposition and analysis were performed at 300 K and 140 K. The Pb coverage was determined quantitatively by ion scattering. The results indicated a clear transition in the growth mode as a function of temperature. At 300 K, two-dimensional island growth was observed up to 1. 0 monolayer, followed by three-dimensional epitaxial growth of strained islands. Two-dimensional island growth was observed up to 5 monolayers at 140 K. The relative positions of the overlayer atoms relative to the substrate was studied to understand two-dimensional phase transitions above room temperature.