Vortex pinning in a superconducting Nb thin film deposited on an anodically grown alumina template is investigated. Anodic oxidation of aluminium layers permits under specific conditions the formation of highly ordered porous alumina, a membrane-like structure consisting of triangular arrays of parallel pores. Its pore diameter and interpore distance are set by careful tuning of the anodization parameters. A superconducting Nb thin film is deposited directly onto the alumina film. The porous alumina acts as a template and it allows Nb to form a periodic pinning array during its growth. Pinning force vs. field measurements derived from magnetization measurements, show matching effects in fields up to 1 T. We demonstrate that the anodic alumina template with 50 nm interpore spacing provides enhanced vortex pinning in a large field and temperature range. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.