A study has been made of the deformation of solids at high rates of strain which are produced by the impact of a small cylinder or jet of liquid on the surface of the solid. A method is developed for projecting this jet against the solid at velocities up to 1200 m/s. The subsequent deformation of the solid under impact and the behaviour of the liquid is observed by high-speed photographic methods. The magnitude and duration of the impact load are also measured by using a piezo-electric transducer. The mode of deformation of the solid has been investigated for plastic, elastic and brittle materials. There is evidence that the liquid jet, on impact, behaves initially in a compressible manner. Part of the deformation is due to these compressible effects and part to the shearing action of the liquid flowing at very high speeds across the surface. If the head of the jet has an appropriate shape (e.g. wedge shaped) the velocity of flow across the surface may be much greater than the velocity of approach. It is found that there are five general types of deformation produced in the solid. There are (i) circumferential surface fractures, (ii) subsurface flow and fractures, (iii) large-scale plastic deformation, (iv) shear deformation around the periphery of the impact zone, and (v) fracture due to the reflexion and interference of stress waves. The predominating mode of deformation depends primarily on the mechanical properties of the solid and on the velocity of impact. The observations have a bearing on the practical problem of the erosion of aircraft flying at high speed through rain and on the erosion of turbine blades.