< c‎ | memory
Defined in header <stdlib.h>
void* malloc( size_t size );

Allocates size bytes of uninitialized storage.

If allocation succeeds, returns a pointer to the lowest (first) byte in the allocated memory block that is suitably aligned for any object type.

If size is zero, the behavior is implementation defined (null pointer may be returned, or some non-null pointer may be returned that may not be used to access storage, but has to be passed to free).

malloc is thread-safe: it behaves as though only accessing the memory locations visible through its argument, and not any static storage.

A previous call to free or realloc that deallocates a region of memory synchronizes-with a call to malloc that allocates the same or a part of the same region of memory. This synchronization occurs after any access to the memory by the deallocating function and before any access to the memory by malloc. There is a single total order of all allocation and deallocation functions operating on each particular region of memory.

(since C11)


size - number of bytes to allocate

Return value

On success, returns the pointer to the beginning of newly allocated memory. The returned pointer must be deallocated with free() or realloc().

On failure, returns a null pointer.


#include <stdio.h>   
#include <stdlib.h> 
int main(void) 
    int *p1 = malloc(4*sizeof(int));  // allocates enough for an array of 4 int
    int *p2 = malloc(sizeof(int[4])); // same, naming the type directly
    int *p3 = malloc(4*sizeof *p3);   // same, without repeating the type name
    if(p1) {
        for(int n=0; n<4; ++n) // populate the array
            p1[n] = n*n;
        for(int n=0; n<4; ++n) // print it back out
            printf("p1[%d] == %d\n", n, p1[n]);


p1[0] == 0
p1[1] == 1
p1[2] == 4
p1[3] == 9


  • C11 standard (ISO/IEC 9899:2011):
  • The malloc function (p: 349)
  • C99 standard (ISO/IEC 9899:1999):
  • The malloc function (p: 314)
  • C89/C90 standard (ISO/IEC 9899:1990):
  • The malloc function

See also