Particle reinforced composites are produced by infiltrating ceramic particle beds with 99.99% Al. Resulting materials feature a relatively high volume fraction (40-55 vol. pet) of homogeneously distributed reinforcement. The evolution of damage during tensile straining of these composites is monitored using two indirect methods; namely by tracking changes in density and in Young's modulus. Identification and quantification of the active damage mechanisms is conducted on polished sections of failed tensile specimens: particle fracture and void formation in the matrix are the predominant damage micromechanisms in these materials. The damage parameter derived from the change in density at a given strain is found to be one to two orders of magnitude smaller than the parameter based on changes in Young's modulus. A simple micromechanical analysis inspired by the observed damage micromechanisms is used to correlate the two indirect measurements of damage. The predictions of this analysis are in good agreement with experiment. (C) 2001 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. AII rights reserved.