Abstract The structure of (1 1 0) plane of Cr-doped CdTe single crystals has been studied by reflection high energy electron diffraction and scanning electron microscopy. Diffraction patterns consist of diffraction spots and Kikuchi lines. However, for very small incident angle, the Debye rings are observed. The constant lattice attributed to these rings is 0.8% less then for pure CdTe. These anomalous properties of the near surface layer are likely to occur due to the concentration of Cr atoms creating compressive surface strains or the effect of crystal cleavage.