The anisotropy of the solid-liquid interfacial energy plays a key role during the formation of as-solidified microstructures. Using the xi-vector formalism of Cahn and Hoffman, this contribution presents the effect that anisotropy has on the equilibrium shapes of crystals and on surface tension equilibrium at triple lines. Consequences for heterogeneous nucleation of anisotropic crystals and for dendritic growth morphologies are detailed with specific examples related to Al-Zn and Zn-Al alloys. (C) 2010 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.