The mechanical properties of metal matrix composites (MMCs) are critical to their potential application as structural materials. A systematic examination of the effect of particulate volume fraction on the mechanical properties of an Al2O3-Al MMC has been undertaken. The material used was a powder metallurgy processed AA 6061 matrix alloy reinforced with MICRAL-20™, a polycrystalline microsphere reinforcement consisting of a mixture of alumina and mullite. The volume fraction of the reinforcement was varied systematically from 5 to 30% in 5% intervals. The powder metallurgy composites were extruded then heat treated to the T6 condition. Extruded liquid metallurgy processed AA 6061 was used to establish the properties of the unreinforced material. © 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers.