Monotonic and cyclic loading of polycrystals causes a complex evolution of the dislocation structure and internal stresses. These phenomena were studied in sheet samples of commercially pure (CP) Ni in heat-treated (large-grained) states. Various microscopy tools were used, namely, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD) to image the surface grain structure; Focused Ion Beam (FIB) with channelling contrast to visualise the through-thickness grain arrangement; and synchrotron scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) to obtain absorption-contrast images. In order to investigate the internal defects and lattice distortion caused by them, synchrotron X-ray diffraction was used in a variety of modes. Reciprocal space mapping (RSM) was used to quantify the amount of lattice re-orientation (rotation) due to plastic deformation. Micro-beam Laue diffraction was used to obtain 2D images containing multiple reflections that undergo "streaking" due to plastic deformation. The combination of reciprocal space mapping and Laue micro-diffraction provided improved insight into the deformation processes within individual grains during plastic deformation. The results are interpreted and discussed in conjunction with dislocation dynamics and finite element modelling of plastic deformation by crystal slip. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.