Structural materials, such as ferritic and austenitic steels and aluminium alloys, as used in the nuclear and aircraft industry, are subjected to external stresses which may lead to the nucleation of cracks. The damage zone ahead of a crack tip introduced as a result of static deformation was investigated in an Al-2024 and Al-6013 alloy, and in a 10 CrMo9 10 reference steel by means of small angle X-ray scattering. A robust parameter, the anisotropy parameter, describing the damage region was developed. Further damage parameters were explored. The data, supported by electron microscopy investigations, point to large oriented dislocation networks. Finite element calculations show a good correspondence in the shape and size of the damage zone.