Abstract Synchrotron X-ray diffraction is used to study in situ the evolution of phase strains during compressive creep deformation in bovine bone and dentin for a range of compressive stresses and irradiation rates, at ambient and body temperatures. In all cases, compressive strains in the collagen phase increase with increasing creep time (and concomitant irradiation), reflecting macroscopic deformation of the sample. By contrast, compressive elastic strains in the hydroxyapatite (HAP) phase, created upon initial application of compressive load on the sample, decrease with increasing time (and irradiation) for all conditions; this load shedding behavior is consistent with damage at the HAP–collagen interface due to the high irradiation doses (from ~100 to ~9,000kGy). Both the HAP and fibril strain rates increase with applied compressive stress, temperature and irradiation rate, which is indicative of greater collagen molecular sliding at the HAP–collagen interface and greater intermolecular sliding (i.e., plastic deformation) within the collagen network. The temperature sensitivity confirms that testing at body temperature, rather than ambient temperature, is necessary to assess the in vivo behavior of bone and teeth. The characteristic pattern of HAP strain evolution with time differs quantitatively between bone and dentin, and may reflect their different structural organization.