The experiments here described have been carried out in the framework of a more general research, aiming to develop a set of complementary models to predict the in-service performances of particle reinforced MMC automotive and aeronautical components. As MMCs are highly heterogeneous materials, residual stresses are present in both the matrix and the particles microstructure, prior to any macroscopic loading. They vary with the temperature and with the type and level of loading imposed to the material, having a strong influence on the mechanical behaviour of MMCs. Neutron diffraction measurements have been performed at RISO (Roskilde, DK) and HMI-BENSC (Berlin, D), for the determination of residual stress in AA2124 + 17% SiCp and AA359 + 20% SiCp specimens, submitted to tensile and fatigue tests. For each of the investigated samples, the macrostress has been separated from the elastic and thermal mismatch microstresses. The results show that, in general, the main contribution to the stress state of both matrix and reinforcement is given by the thermal microstresses, already existing due to heat treatment prior to mechanical tests. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.