The growth of GaAs epilayers on Si should combine the advantages of both materials. The lattice mismatch and the difference in thermal expansion coefficients, however, result in the yet unsolved problems of high dislocation density and thermal stress in the GaAs layer. Recently, considerable improvements have been achieved by a ‘thermal cyclic growth’ (TCG) process. In this study we focus on the reduction of high defect concentration and dislocation density. The improvement of the epilayer quality is verified by DLTS, PL and DCXD. Results of TEM and DLTS measurements lead to the identification of a dislocation related defect.