Asymmetric nanocrystals have practical significance in nanotechnologies but present fundamental synthetic challenges. Thiol ligands have proven effective in breaking the symmetric growth of metallic nanocrystals but their exact roles in the synthesis remain elusive. Here, we synthesized an unprecedented Au nanorod-Au nanoparticle (AuNR-AuNP) dimer structure with the assistance of a thiol ligand. On the basis of our experimental observations, we unraveled for the first time that the thiol could cause an inhomogeneous distribution of surface strains on the seed crystals as well as a modulated reduction rate of metal precursors, which jointly induced the asymmetric growth of monometallic dimers. © 2015 American Chemical Society.