The influence of salts (NaCl, NaBr, and NaI) on the formation of mesoporous silica SBA-15 was studied in situ by small-angle X-ray scattering and diffraction. Pluronic P104 was used as structure director. The micellar properties and the dynamics of formation were clearly dependent on the presence of salt. It was also shown that the kinetics of mesophase formation, the initial value of the cell parameters, and the extent of long-range order were all influenced by salt additions. The observations are explained to primarily originate from the influence of the anions on the ethylene oxide part of the polymer, i.e., the corona region of the Pluronic micelles. Two effects are identified: a general ion effect causing dehydration of the ethylene oxide part and consequently inducing micellar growth, and a specific ion effect that counterbalances this. The study provides the basis for understanding the means by which addition of simple Na-salts influence the formation of mesoscopically ordered silicas synthesized using nonionic surfactants as structure directors, hence advancing the knowledge base toward a more rational design of mesoporous materials. © 2011 American Chemical Society.