Synchrotron white-beam x-ray topographs taken in the back-reflection mode have proved a powerful tool in the study of defects in semiconductor-grade silicon carbide crystals. Capable of mapping the distribution of axial dislocations across a wafer's area (notably the devastating micropipe defect), it can also provide information on their natures. Under favorable conditions, various other types of defect may be observed in back-reflection topographs of SiC, among which are subgrain boundaries, inclusions, and basal plane dislocations. Observed defect images in backreflection topographs may be simulated using relatively simple computer algorithms based on ray tracing. It has been possible to use back-reflection topographs of SiC substrates with device structures deposited upon them to relate the incidence of defects to device failure.