The effect of electron irradiation on defects in natural quartz grains has been studied using strong-beam and weak-beam transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques. Damage is visible soon after the sample is exposed to the electron beam. The defect centers grow with increased irradiation, but the density of centers is independent of electron dose. Dislocation images also widen during irradiation; the rate of widening is independent of Burgers vector and dislocation nodes widen without constriction. Both of these observations indicate that the widening of dislocation images is related to vitrification of the material in the vicinity of the dislocations rather than irradiation-assisted separation of partial dislocations. This interpretation is supported by observations on grain boundaries.