Details of microindentation of silicon, such as the semiconductor-to-metal transformation, which takes place on loading, have been examined using spherical indenters. Various forms of silicon are studied, including heavily boron-doped wafers and silicon damaged and amorphized by ion implantation as well as material containing dislocations. Results indicate that only silicon, which contains high concentrations of point defects or is amorphous, exhibits mechanical properties that differ significantly from undoped, defect-free crystal. Amorphous silicon exhibits plastic flow under low indentation pressures and does not appear to undergo phase transformation on loading and unloading. Indentation of compound semiconductors is also studied and the load/unload behavior at room temperature is quite different from that of silicon. Both gallium arsenide and indium phosphide, for example, undergo slip-induced plasticity above a critical load.