In this article, we report a study of mosaic structures in partially relaxed Si0.7Ge0.3 epilayers grown on Si(001) substrates by x-ray double- and triple-axis diffractometry. The samples have different layer thicknesses and hence different degrees of strain relaxation. Our results show that, at early stages of strain relaxation, the films contain mosaic regions laterally separated by perfect regions. This is because the mosaic structure caused by a misfit dislocation is effectively localized in a lateral range of the layer thickness. Therefore, far from the dislocations, the film is virtually a perfect crystal. With the increase in the degree of strain relaxation, and consequently in the dislocation density, the mosaic regions of the layer expand while the perfect regions shrink and finally vanish completely. Moreover, our results indicate that the conventional method of estimating dislocation density from the x-ray rocking curve width fails in our case. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.