Structural components machined from aluminum forgings can exhibit distortion and poor dimensional quality due to residual stresses formed primarily during heat treatment. To alleviate these problems, mechanically stress-relieved tempers are used in which a small amount of plastic strain is introduced after solution heat treatment and prior to aging. For hand-forged billets and die forgings, this strain is introduced by compression. Process specifications for compression stress relief typically allow a range of strains, and this process variability can in turn lead to inconsistent forging performance in machining. In addition, since cold work is known to accelerate the aging response and decrease the peak strength in alloys such as 7050Al, it is important to control the compression stress relief process to achieve the stress relief while maintaining acceptable mechanical properties. The purpose of this investigation was to experimentally characterize the influence of compressive strain on the mechanical properties achieved after subsequent aging treatment in aluminum alloy 7050. We have also used finite element modeling of the residual stress state in a typical forging to predict optimum compression parameters for stress relief.