We have studied the Raman features characteristics of defects generated in graphite under high stress conditions. Defects are generated in pristine highly oriented pyrolytic graphite by squeezing the samples in a high-pressure anvil cell and monitored in situ by Raman spectroscopy. On the basis of our Raman measurements and existing literature correlations, we conclude that vacancies and grain boundaries are generated during compression–decompression cycles, being the defects mostly generated during the decompression stage. Our results demonstrate that the relative intensities of the D, D′, and (D + D′) bands are strongly correlated. Which is important for practical application of Raman spectroscopy in the characterization of carbon materials is that such correlations are essentially constant over the whole stress range covered in the experiments (~7 GPa). An additional interesting result concerns the relative intensities of the denoted 2D1 and 2D2 contributions, which are correlated with the intensity of the G band; the intensity ratio between both features is modified by stress indicating that the stress affects the stacking order of pristine graphite. Finally, we find that the decrease in intensity of the 2D2 band with decreasing crystallite size found in existing studies on unstrained graphite remains under stress conditions. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.