Dislocation structures in neutron irradiated Zircaloy-2 fuel cladding and channel material have been characterized by means of high-resolution synchrotron x-ray diffraction combined with whole peak profile analysis and by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The samples available for this characterization were taken from high burnup fuel assemblies and offer insight into the evolution of the dislocation structure after the formation of dislocation loops containing a c component. Absolute dislocation density values are about 4–15 times higher for the whole peak profile compared to TEM analysis. Most interestingly, the diffraction analysis suggests that the total dislocation density, as well as the a loop density, increases with fluence for the cladding material type. This trend is also inferred from a Williamson-Hall representation but contradicts the TEM observations. The c loop density evolution is more complicated and doesn't display any particular trend. In addition, the diffraction analysis highlights the presence of well-developed shoulders adjacent to the basal reflections and noticeable peak asymmetry particularly for the channel samples that experienced slightly lower operation temperatures than the clad. The findings are discussed in respect of the perceived irradiation induced growth mechanisms in Zr alloys.