Recent advantages in high-resolution electron microscopy have made it possible to extract atomic-level details about defects, interfaces and surfaces in compound semiconductors. The chemical composition of dislocation cores can be deduced by careful matching of experimental micrographs with image simulations, provided that the crystal polarity has first been independently determined. Interfacial quality in multilayer materials can be determined by imaging at optimal values of objective lens defocus and specimen thickness. The nature of surface reconstructions induced by cleaning under ultrahigh vacuum conditions can be established with assistance from image simulations and prior knowledge of the crystal polarity. High-resolution studies of compound semiconductors in our laboratory and elsewhere are reviewed.