The strain distribution inside and in the vicinity of coherently strained self-organized islands has been investigated by high-resolution x-ray diffraction (HRXRD). Finite element method (FEM) calculations were carried out in order to calculate the strain field, which was then used to simulate x-ray reciprocal space maps on the basis of kinematical scattering theory. For Si0 75Ge0.25 islands an abrupt increase in the Ge-concentration at about one third of the island height has been found. This behavior can be attributed to different nucleation stages during growth. Highly strained buried CdSe quantum dots (QDs) strongly influence the surrounding ZnSe matrix. From reciprocal space maps and FEM simulations we were able to estimate the shape and size of the islands. The results are in agreement with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and UHV atomic force microscopy (AFM) data.