Circumferentially notched cylindrical bars of high volume fraction Al2O3 particle reinforced aluminium are tested in tension to probe the role of tensile stress triaxiality on damage and failure of such materials. The transverse strain is monitored with a specially designed video extensometer. A significant dependence of the peak average stress and failure strain on notch radius is observed. Finite-element simulations of the tests are conducted on the basis of a micromechanical model derived from earlier studies of damage and failure of these composites under uniaxial tensile deformation (Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 2009;57:1781). The simulations show that stress and strain distributions within the notched composite samples deviate significantly from predictions of Bridgman’s simplified analysis. Comparison with data shows that, whereas calculations capture satisfactorily the evolution of the average composite flow stress as a function of notch radius at small strains, the notched samples damage faster and fail at strains lower than predicted. Two phenomena may explain the discrepancy, namely (i) damage coalescence beyond a threshold level, and (ii) the incapacity of the matrix to sustain large hydrostatic stresses, which results from the presence of internal surfaces (cracked particles and possibly matrix voiding).