Anticlines of the Lurestan Province in the Zagros fold–thrust belt have been studied by integrating field-based analysis with the use of high-resolution satellite images and data available from the literature. The distribution of folds in the southeastern Lurestan Province, expressed in terms of axial length and wavelength distribution, shows a direct link with the characteristics of the sedimentary multilayer in which the folds developed. Within the carbonate deposits of the Late Cretaceous Bangestan Group the transition from pelagic to neritic facies determines a threefold increase in anticline spacing and promotes the development of thrust structures in the forelimb of anticlines. The Oligocene–Miocene Shahbazan–Asmari unit folds harmonically with the Bangestan Group, except in the areas where the Palaeogene deposits interposed between the two units exceed 1300 m of thickness. In these areas the Shahbazan–Asmari carbonates display short-wavelength folds indicating a complete decoupling from the underlying folds of the Bangestan Group. It is suggested that this decoupling occurs because the summed thickness of the incompetent units separating the two carbonate units exceeds the extension of the zone of effective contact strain of the Bangestan Group folds.