The objective of this study was to use micromechanical finite element models to simulate both the static and cyclic mechanical behaviour of a metal matrix composite: a forged Al 2124 alloy reinforced with 17% SiC particles, at two different temperatures: room temperature and 150 degreesC, In the simulations, periodic unit cell models incorporating the explicit representation of the matrix and the reinforcing particles in both 2D and 3D, were used. Micromechanical models with both idealised and realistic reinforcing particle shapes and distributions were generated. The realistic particle shapes and distributions were inferred from experimental SEM micrographs. The pattern and intensity of the plastic deformation within the matrix was studied and the macroscale behaviour of the composite was inferred from average stress and strain values. In order to include the effects of residual stresses due to the processing of the material, a quenching simulation was performed, prior to the mechanical loading, and its effects on the macroscopic tensile behaviour of the MMC was assessed. The effects of removing the periodicity constraint on the models by using a cell embedding technique was investigated. In order to try and model the deformation behaviour of the matrix more accurately, crystal plasticity models, which included the explicit representation of individual grains were examined for different matrix grain morphologies. The results of the simulations were compared with experimental results for the MMC in terms of macroscopic tensile stress-strain curves, Finally, the effects of different matrix strain hardening models were examined in order to investigate the cyclic behaviour of the MMC. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.