The influence of surface defect geometry on the localization and failure behaviour of AA6111 sheet has been investigated through experimentation and numerical modelling. A series of uniaxial tensile samples were produced with idealized top and bottom surface defects (i.e. grooves), located either symmetrically or asymmetrically on the opposing surfaces. The symmetric arrangement corresponds to the “groove-like” initial imperfection of the classical Marciniak- Kuczyński (M-K) model. Experimental results indicate that both the symmetry of the defects and their wavelength have a profound effect on the resulting mode of localization and failure as well as on the limit strains. Specifically, symmetric surface defects are seen to induce localization and failure through simple necking, whereas asymmetric defects tend to promote macroscopic, throughthickness shearing. Furthermore, asymmetric surface defect geometries are found to produce lower limit strains in the AA6111 sheet under study for defect wavelengths below about 1.5 mm, while the reverse is true when defect wavelengths are above 1.5 mm. Finite element method (FEM) modelling simulations are also presented, demonstrating that the experimentally-observed trends in localization and failure behaviour can be replicated using a mixed isotropic-kinematic hardening implementation of the Gurson-Tvergaard-Needleman (GTN) material model.