Annealing behavior of vacancies and the Z1/2 levels in n-type 4H–SiC epilayers after 2 MeV electron irradiation has been studied using positron annihilation and deep-level transient spectroscopy. Isochronal annealing studies indicate that silicon vacancy-related defects are primarily responsible for positron trapping. The Z1/2 levels are the predominant deep centers after irradiation and subsequent annealing at 1200 °C. Both the positron-trapping rate at vacancies and the Z1/2 concentration decrease in a similar manner while annealing from 1200 to 1500 °C. It is thus proposed that the Z1/2 levels originate from silicon vacancy-related defects. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.