Hydrogen behavior in unintentionally doped GaN epilayers on sapphire substrates grown by NH3-MBE is investigated. Firstly, we find by using nuclear reaction analysis (NRA) that with increasing hydrogen concentration the background electron concentration increases, which suggests that there exists a hydrogen-related donor in undoped GaN, Secondly, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) absorption and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) reveal Further that hydrogen atom is bound to nitrogen atom in GaN with a local vibrational mode at about 3211 cm(-1) Hence, it is presumed that the hydrogen-related complex Ga. . .H-N is a hydrogen-related donor candidate partly responsible for high n-type background commonly observed in GaN films. Finally, Raman spectroscopy results of the epilayers show that ill addition to the expected compressive biaxial strain, in some cases GaN films suffer from serious tensile biaxial strain. This anomalous behavior has been well interpreted in terms of interstitial hydrogen lattice dilation. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.