It is known that self-duality equations for multi-instantons on a line in four dimensions are equivalent to minimal surface equations in three-dimensional Minkowski space. We extend this equivalence beyond the equations of motion and show that topological number, instanton moduli space and anti-self-dual solutions have representations in terms of minimal surfaces. The issue of topological charge is quite subtle because the surfaces that appear are non compact. This minimal surface/instanton correspondence allows us to define a metric on the configuration space of the gauge fields. We obtain the minimal surface representation of an instanton with arbitrary charge. The trivial vacuum and the BPST instanton as minimal surfaces are worked out in detail. BPS monopoles and the geodesics are also discussed.