The effects of growth temperature, substrate offcut, and dislocation pileup formation on threading dislocation density (TDD) in compositionally graded SiGe buffers are explored. To investigate dislocation glide kinetics in these structures, a series of identical samples graded to 30% Ge were grown at temperatures between 650 and 900 °C on (001)-, (001) offcut 6° towards an in-plane 〈110〉-, and (001) offcut 6° towards an in-plane 〈100〉-oriented Si substrates. The field threading dislocation density (field TDD) in the on-axis samples varied exponentially with temperature, from 3.7×106 cm−2 at 650 °C to 9.3×104 cm−2 at 900 °C. The activation energy for dislocation glide in this series, calculated from the evolution of field TDD with growth temperature, was 1.38 eV, much lower than the expected value for this composition. This deviation indicates that strain accumulating during the grading process at low growth temperatures is forcing further dislocation nucleation, resulting in a deviation from pure glide-limited relaxation. The TDD of samples grown on offcut substrates exhibited a more complicated temperature dependence, likely because films grown on offcut substrates have an increased tendency towards saturation in dislocation reduction reactions at high temperature. Dislocation reduction processes were further explored by initiating compositional grading up to 15% Ge at 650 °C and continuing the grade to 30% Ge at 900 °C. The low temperature portion of this growth provided an excess concentration of threading dislocations which could subsequently be annihilated during the high temperature portion of the growth, enabling a comparison of reduction rates for different substrate offcuts. Combining these results with threading dislocation densities in a variety of other samples, a complete picture of strain relaxation kinetics in compositionally graded SiGe/Si emerges. Generally, strain relaxation in these structures is limited by dislocation glide, and threading dislocation densities are independent of final Ge content. However, we theorize that dislocation pileup formation inhibits the strain relaxation process and is therefore accompanied by a rise in field threading dislocation density. Based on these results, we now have a predictive model for TDD in compositionally graded SiGe/Si over a wide range of growth conditions. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.