A transmission electron microscope was used to study the origin of grown-in dislocations observed in quaternary InGaAsP layers grown by vapor phase epitaxy on (001) InP substrates. Many of the grown-in dislocations were found to exist as dislocation dipoles and were connected to particles formed at the lnGaAsP/lnP interface. X-ray micro-analysis has indicated that the particles are quaternary alloys having chemical compositions slightly richer in both Ga and P than that of the lattice-matched InGaAsP layer. In some cases, this compositional deviation led to a significant lattice mismatch. As the particle grows larger, a strain relaxation occurs by generating misfit dislocations around the particle in the form of a dislocation half loop. If these dislocation half loops do not develop into a complete loop by totally surrounding the particle, they leave two unclosed dislocation segments (a dislocation dipole), which are replicated by the quaternary overlayer along the substrate normal direction, i.e., . These dislocations eventually become a source for grown-in dislocations.