Abstract The uniaxial deformation properties of an alumina/aluminum composite where both phases are continuous have been studied both experimentally and analytically using the Finite Element (FE) method. The analytical and experimental work have shown the material to behave in a nearly bilinear manner defined by the Young's modulus and an elastic-plastic modulus. The FE modeling has shown good predictive capability in both regimes. This comparison along with transmission electron microscopy establishes that in the elastic-plastic regime, elastic deformation in the ceramic is accommodated by plastic deformation in the metal phase. No significant microcracking was observed, or is necessary for deformation. Residual stresses are also shown to have only subtle effects on the deformation of this material.