Oval defects in In0.04Ga0.96As/GaAs strained-layer heterostructures have been investigated using cathodoluminescence (CL) and wavelength dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (WDS). WDS studies showed that the particulates seen at the center of oval defects are indium rich and gallium depleted. A luminescent halo was seen around the indium rich particulates in the CL mode. When the halo was studied further, it was shown that the peak obtained from CL spectroscopy due to the luminescent halo shifts to lower wavelengths as the beam is moved from the center of the oval defect to the edge of the halo region, indicating a decreasing gradient in indium concentration. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.