The microstructural aspects of iron sulfide degradation in dam concrete were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) in both dam concrete samples and laboratory concrete. The results show that iron sulfide inclusions with a diameter of a few micrometers in the aggregates are reactive and appear to generate expansion first in the aggregates and consequently in the cement paste. The expansion from the iron sulfides is a consequence of the increase in volume of the reaction products formed. The types of iron sulfide present in the aggregate, mainly pyrrhotite (FeS) and pyrite (FeS2), show similar reaction behavior in the aggregates. The released sulfate can lead to a secondary ettringite formation in the concrete matrix, but the degradation associated with this appears to be minor. The reaction of the iron sulfides was found to be very slow even when laboratory samples were exposed to elevated temperatures. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.