||For describing the indentation size effect (ISE), numerous models, which relate the load orhardness to the indent dimensions, have been proposed. Unfortunately, it is still difficult toassociate the different parameters involved in such relationships with physical or mechanicalproperties of the material. This is an unsolved problem since the ISE can be associated withvarious causes such as workhardening, roughness, piling-up, sinking-in, indenter tip geometry, surface energy, varying composition and crystal anisotropy. For interpreting the change inhardness with indent size, an original approach is proposed on the basis of composite hardnessmodelling together with the use of a simple model, which allows the determination of thehardness–depth profile. Applied to copper and copper alloys, it is shown that it is possible todetermine the maximum hardness value reached at the outer surface of the material and thedistance over which both the ISE and the workhardening take place.