X-ray diffraction has been used to study the nematic phases of the cis and trans isomers of an elongated molecule containing the cyclobutane group. It has been shown that these nematic phases consist of a mixture of single molecules and overlapping core dimers. It has been found that increasing the temperature of the cis isomer rapidly reduces the dimer population, whereas increasing the temperature of the trans isomer enhances the dimer population. This provides an explanation of the relatively high clearing temperature of the trans isomer. The different temperature dependences of the dimer population in the cis and trans isomers has been explained by a model involving inversion of the cylobutane group.