This study addresses the effects of number of layers, compositional gradient exponent (material composition) and random particle dispersion on the indentation behavior of a functionally graded metal matrix composite. The ceramic particles in a certain volume fraction were randomly distributed within each layer depending on the compositional gradient exponent in order to have a similar structure to an actual microstructure as possible. Increasing the number of layers caused an evident increase in indentation depths for all compositional gradient exponents. The compositional gradient exponent had an important effect on the indentation depth. The random particle dispersion also played an important role on the central indentation depth (n < 3) as well as on the deformed surface profiles for both high layer numbers (N = 75 and 150 layers) and the material compositions approaching to a metal-rich structure resulted in some fluctuations in the deformed surface profiles. Increasing the number of layers at a certain compositional gradient exponent resulted in larger mean residual stresses and plastic deformations. Increasing the compositional gradient exponent at a certain layer number decreased mean residual stresses and strains since the ceramic volume fraction is increased. The random particle dispersion also resulted in non-uniform residual stress and strain levels and distributions. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.