The dimensional variation of simple die-pressed ceramic green compacts is analysed by elasto-plastic numerical modelling with the finite element method and also by experimental investigations. For the experimental investigations, the shape of a cylindrical alumina compact, obtained by using a single-acting punch dee pressing system, was measured by means of non-contacting laser profilometry. To facilitate the numerical modelling, the Drucker-Prager/cap elasto-plasticity model was used in conjunction with the finite element code ABAQUS. Computed internal stress distributions are reported at various stages of the compaction. also, the final geometry of the compacted green component was predicted. The origins of the dimensional variation of the ceramic green compacts are discussed. It is shown that the predicted shape results, obtained from the numerical model, agree well with the corresponding experimental results. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Limited.