The effects of surface structure on mechanical performance for open-cell aluminum foam specimens was investigated in the present study. A surface gradient for pore structure and diameter was introduced into open cell aluminum foams by machining-based processing. The structure changes in the strut and pore network were evaluated by computed tomography characterization. The role of structure gradients in affecting mechanical performance was determined using digital volume correlation and in situ compression within the computed tomographic scanner. These preliminary results show that the strength of these materials may be enhanced through surface structural gradients.