The stable crystal structure of magnesium sulfide (MgS) is rocksalt. However, the metastable zinc-blende structure is obtained when MgS is deposited by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) on (001) zinc-blende substrates with a relatively small misfit. In the present work, the zinc blende to rocksalt phase transition is analyzed in MgSZnSeGaAs multilayer samples grown by MBE with different MgS layer thicknesses. By x-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy methods, a partial nucleation of MgS rocksalt is evidenced and correlated to the presence of stacking faults at the bottom interface. The unexpected coexistence of both rocksalt and zinc-blende MgS structural phases is discussed. © 2007 American Institute of Physics.