An analytical elastic-plastic stress analysis is carried out on metal-matrix composite beams of arbitrary orientation, supported from two ends under a transverse uniformly distributed load. The composite layer consists of stainless steel fiber and aluminum matrix. The material is assumed to be perfectly plastic during the elastic-plastic solution. The intensity of the uniform force is chosen at a small value; therefore, the normal stress component sigma(y) is neglected in the elastic-plastic solution. The expansion of the plastic region and the residual stress component of sigma(x) are determined for orientation angles of 0, 30, 45, 60 and 90degrees. Plastic yielding occurs for 0degrees and 90degrees orientation angles on the lower and upper surfaces of the beam at the same distances from the mid-point. However, it starts first at the lower surface for 30, 45 and 60degrees orientation angles. The intensity of the residual stress component of a, is found to be maximum at the lower and upper surfaces; however, the intensity of the residual stress component of tau(xy) is a maximum on or around the x axis of the beam. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.