The effect of low-energy electron-beam irradiation (LEEBI) on native defects and residual impurities in metalorganic-vapor-phase-epitaxy-grown, lightly Mg-doped, p-type GaN was studied by temperature-resolved and excitation power density-resolved cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. Following the LEEBI treatment, the ubiquitous shallow donor–acceptor-pair emission at 3.27 eV decreased, while a deeper DAP emission at ∼3.1 eV dramatically increased in intensity, and a broad yellow luminescence band centered at 2.2 eV evolved. The results clearly indicate that the centers involved in the 3.27 eV transition are not stable during irradiation by low-energy electrons. Further, we report that the LEEBI-treatment not only dissociates neutral Mg-H complexes as intended, but simultaneously dissociates other hydrogenated defect complexes, giving rise to additional radiative recombination channels. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.