The indentation of single crystals by a periodic array of flat rigid contacts is analyzed using discrete dislocation plasticity. Plane strain analyses are carried out with the dislocations all of edge character and modeled as line singularities in a linear elastic solid. The limiting cases of frictionless and perfectly sticking contacts are considered. The effects of contact size, dislocation source density, and dislocation obstacle density and strength on the evolution of the mean indentation pressure are explored, but the main focus is on contrasting the response ofcrystals having dislocation sources on the surface with that of crystals having dislocation sources in the bulk. When there are only bulk sources, the mean contact pressure for sufficiently large contacts is independent of the friction condition, whereas for suificiently small contact sizes, there isa significant dependence on the friction condition. When there are only surface dislocation sources the mean contact pressure increases much more rapidly with indentation depth than when bulk sources are present and the mean contact pressure is very sensitive to the strength of the obstacles to dislocation glide. Also, on unloading a layer of tensile residual stress develops when surface dislocation sources dominate. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.