CdTe is well known as an excellent photovoltaic material for high efficiency solar cell applications because it has a direct band-gap, low fabrication cost and high optical absorption coefficient. However, the nonradiative recombination and low average minority carrier lifetime caused by the defects in CdTe solar cells limit its efficiency. So far, grain boundaries (GB) have been considered to be the major origin of the nonradiative recombination. However, we show that CdTe grains contain many dislocations that could limit device efficiency. Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) was used to determine the atomic structure of intrinsic and extrinsic stacking faults and their terminating partial dislocation cores. Z-contrast images are sensitive to atomic number and are able to distinguish Cd and Te atomic columns. Unpaired Cd and Te atomic columns were found to form the partial dislocation cores, suggesting the presence of dangling bonds. These defects are likely to be electrically active, and may be the origin of the low minority carrier lifetime.