A bulk metallic glass matrix composite with dendritic second phase precipitates was investigated using neutron diffraction and self-consistent modeling (SCM) to ascertain its deformation mechanisms. The compressive behavior of both the composite and the second phase (in its monolithic form) were investigated. The diffraction data were compared to the predictions of a new SCM resulting in good agreement. For the first time, this model considered both amorphous and crystalline phases and allowed the calculation of single crystal elastic constants from polycrystalline diffraction data. It was shown that the ductile second phase yielded first upon loading, and this was followed by multiple shear band formation in the matrix, a process which enhanced the ductility of the composite. (c) 2005 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.