Rutherford backscattering in the axial channeling configuration was used together with cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (XTEM) to investigate the near surface damage introduced to (1 0 0) ZnSe by mechanical polishing. ZnSe surfaces were prepared by polishing with 1 μm and 1/4 μm diamond abrasive slurries, and by etching so as to provide a surface indicative of original crystalline quality. Channeling results identified two distinct regions of damage below the surface, (i) shallow damage resulting in direct backscatter and an enlarged surface peak, and (ii) deeper \"distortion\"-type damage resulting in an increased rate of dechanneling. XTEM observations of the 1/4 μm diamond abrasive polished surface confirmed the presence of both intense near surface damage and sparse dislocations extending deep into the crystal. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.