A SIMS backside sputter depth-profile technique using marker layers is employed to characterize the diffusion profiles of the Ge, As, and Au in the Au-Ge contacts after annealing at 320 C for various times. This technique overcomes difficulties such as ion beam mixing and preferential sputtering and results in high depth resolution measurements since diffusion profiles are measured from low to high concentration. Localized reactions in the form of islands were observed across the surface of the contact after annealing and were composed of Au, Ge, and As, as determined by SIMS imaging and Auger depth profiling. Backside SIMS profiles indicate both Ge and Au diffusion into the GaAs substrate in the isalnd regions. Ohmic behavior was obtained after a 3 hour anneal with a the lowest average specific contact resistivity found to be ∼ 7 × 100−6 Ω- cm2.