Visual Studio 6.0

Allocates memory on the stack.

void *_alloca( size_t size );

Routine Required Header Compatibility
_alloca <malloc.h> Win 95, Win NT

For additional compatibility information, see Compatibility in the Introduction.


LIBC.LIB Single thread static library, retail version
LIBCMT.LIB Multithread static library, retail version
MSVCRT.LIB Import library for MSVCRT.DLL, retail version

Return Value

The _alloca routine returns a void pointer to the allocated space, which is guaranteed to be suitably aligned for storage of any type of object. To get a pointer to a type other than char, use a type cast on the return value. A stack overflow exception is generated if the space cannot be allocated.



Bytes to be allocated from stack


_alloca allocates size bytes from the program stack. The allocated space is automatically freed when the calling function exits. Therefore, do not pass the pointer value returned by _alloca as an argument to free.

There are restrictions to explicitly calling _alloca in an exception handler (EH). EH routines that run on x86-class processors operate in their own memory “frame”: They perform their tasks in memory space that is not based on the current location of the stack pointer of the enclosing function. The most common implementations include Windows NT structured exception handling (SEH) and C++ catch clause expressions. Therefore, explicitly calling _alloca in any of the following scenarios results in program failure during the return to the calling EH routine:

  • Windows NT SEH exception filter expression:  __except ( alloca() )

  • Windows NT SEH final exception handler:  __finally { alloca() }

  • C++ EH catch clause expression

However, _alloca can be called directly from within an EH routine or from an application-supplied callback that gets invoked by one of the EH scenarios listed above.

Memory Allocation Routines

See Also   calloc, malloc, realloc