Hillock formation, a stress-induced diffusional relaxation process, was studied in sputter-deposited Al films. The grain sizes in these films were small compared to those in other sputter-deposited Al films, and impurities (O, Ti, W) were incorporated during the preparation of the films. Stress and hardness measurements both indicate that the Al films were strengthened by the small grain size and incorporated impurities. We observed a new type of hillock in these Al thin films after annealing for 2 h at 450 °C in a forming gas ambient. The hillocks were composed of large Al grains created between the substrate and the original Al film with its columnar grain structure, apparently by diffusion from the surrounding area. By modifying the boundary conditions of Chaudhari's hillock formation model [P. Chaudhari, J. Appl. Phy. 45, 4339 (1974)], we have created a new model that can describe the experimentally observed hillocks. Our model seems to explain the experimentally observed abnormal hillock formation and may be applied to other types of hillock formation using different creep laws.