Abstract: Ductile rupture or tearing usually involves structural degradation from the nucleation and growth of voids and their coalescence into cracks. Although some materials contain preexisting pores, the first step in failure is often the formation of voids. Because this step can govern both the failure strain and the fracture mechanism, it is critical to understand the mechanisms of void nucleation and the enabling microstructural configurations which give rise to nucleation. To understand the role of dislocations during void nucleation, the present study presents ex-situ cross-sectional observations of interrupted deformation experiments revealing incipient, subsurface voids in a copper material containing copper oxide inclusions. The local microstructural state was evaluated using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), electron channeling contrast (ECC), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and transmission kikuchi diffraction (TKD). Surprisingly, before substantial growth and coalescence had occurred, the deformation process had resulted in the nucleation of a high density of nanoscale (≈50 nm) voids in the deeply deformed neck region where strains were on the order of 1.5. Such a proliferation of nucleation sites immediately suggests that the rupture process is limited by void growth, not nucleation. With regard to void growth, analysis of more than 20 microscale voids suggests that dislocation boundaries facilitate the growth process. The present observations call into question prior assumptions on the role of dislocation pile-ups and provide new context for the formulation of revised ductile rupture models. While the focus of this study is on damage accumulation in a highly ductile metal containing small, well-dispersed particles, these results are also applicable to understanding void nucleation in engineering alloys.