The combination of surfactant modified montmorillonite (MMT) silicate layers, poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) and the adopted melt processing procedure results in intercalated nanocornposites in which the silicate layers act as nucleating agents for the crystallization of the PCL matrix and by which in turn the overall crystallization rate increases. At a sufficiently high MMT concentration and degree of supercooling the polymer-swollen silicate layer stacks disturb crystal growth, resulting in a decrease in the overall crystallization rate. Simultaneous, time resolved, synchrotron small and wide angle X-ray scattering experiments reveal that-when the retarding effect is absent at a sufficiently high temperature-the final semicrystalline structures of pure PCL and its nanocomposites are identical. The poorer nucleation in the case of pure PCL, however, results in a time wise smearing of primary and secondary crystallization whereas in the nanocomposites these events are well separated due to a nucleation induced, efficient and rapid primary crystallization. Secondary crystallization involves the insertion of new lamellar crystals in between the already existing ones. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.