The relationship between the nature of micro damage under impact loading and changes in mechanical behavior associated with different microstructures is studied for concretes made with two different coarse aggregates having significant differences mainly in roughness and porosity - sintered fly ash and uncrushed gravel. A range of techniques including X-ray diffraction, digital image analysis, mercury porosimetry, X-ray computed tomography, laser surface profilometry and scanning electron microscopy were used to characterize the aggregates and micro-structures. The concrete prepared with lightweight aggregates was stronger in compression than the gravel aggregate concrete due to enhanced hydration as a result of internal curing. In the lightweight concrete, it was deduced that an inhomogeneous micro-structure led to strain incompatibilities and consequent localized stress concentrations in the mix, leading to accelerated failure. The pore structure, compressibility, and surface texture of the aggregates are of paramount importance for the micro-cracking growth. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.