The growth front roughness of Ta2O5 amorphous films grown by pulsed plasma d.c. reactive sputtering has been investigated using atomic force microscopy. Film deposition during reactive sputter deposition is explained based on dynamic scaling hypothesis in which both time and space scaling are considered simultaneously. The interface width w increases as a power law with deposition time t, w ∼ tβ, with β = 0.45 ± 0.03. The lateral correlation length ξ grows as ξ ∼ t1/z, with 1/z = 0.61 ± 0.07. The roughness exponent extracted from the slope of height-height correlation analysis is α = 0.79 ± 0.04. The results are similar to that obtained by sputtering of elemental materials, and do not fit to any of the presently known growth models. Monte Carlo simulations were carried out based on a recently developed re-emission model, where incident flux distribution, shadowing, sticking coefficient, and surface diffusion mechanisms were accounted for in the deposition process. An important finding is that sticking coefficient must be less than unity to obtain the observed β value (∼0.45).