The growth of ZnSe on GaAs by metal organic vapour phase epitaxy (MOVPE) has been studied using reflectance anisotropy spectroscopy (RAS). The RA spectra of ZnSe are significantly different for growth on initially Se-or Zn-exposed GaAs surfaces. The Se-terminated GaAs (001) RA spectrum has Se-dimer-related features at 3.3 and 5.1 eV, and the large, high energy peak dominates during ZnSe growth on this surface. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis has been used to show that these large RA signals arise from anisotropic surface corrugation of the growing ZnSe epilayer. Under initially Zn-stabilised growth conditions, the ZnSe epilayer RA spectrum is largely featureless, showing only a weak peak at 4.7 eV and a dip at 5.1 eV. The corresponding surface anisotropy is greatly reduced in comparison with growth from the initially Se-terminated surface. These observations reveal RAS to be an important technique for ensuring the desired initial GaAs surface since the grown ZnSe surface morphology is critically dependent on the pre-growth substrate surface treatment. However, as the characteristic ZnSe RA spectra are relatively insensitive to changes in substrate temperature and VI-II ratio, RAS is of more limited use as an in-growth surface probe for MOVPE-grown ZnSe.