The nanocrystallization process, promoted in an amorphous alloy with nominal composition Al89Nd7Ni4 by annealing (∼10 min) at temperatures between 480 and 530 K (primary crystallization interval), results in the development of a distribution of primary nanocrystalline particles, with sizes below 10 nm. In the initial steps the nanocrystallization process was found to be controlled by nucleation and diffusion-controlled growth, which is then gradually slowed down by the change in composition of the disordered matrix (soft impingement regime). The kinetics of the process have been explored by the analysis of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) data. We have used the master curve method, based on the isokinetic hypothesis, to analyse the calorimetric data, and XRD patterns were used to estimate the mean grain size in the nanocrystalline phase. © 2005 IOP Publishing Ltd.