This study describes the elimination of threading dislocations (TDs) in GaN nanostructures. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (XTEM) analysis reveals that the nominal  line direction of a TD changes when it enters a GaN nanostructure and the dislocation then terminates at a sidewall facet. It is suggested that the driving force for this process is the reduction of dislocation line energy, and for a pure-edge dislocation, this TD elimination process can be accomplished simply by dislocation climb. This mechanism is active whenever a threading defect is in close proximity to a surface. Preliminary XTEM analysis of defects in AlGaN and InGaN core–shell growth onto GaN nanostructures is also shown. Although more work is required to improve the quality of core–shell InGaN epitaxial growth, nanostructures appear to offer a route to defect-free, nonpolar GaN-based devices.