Al2O3/SiC ceramic nanocomposites were fabricated from nanocrystalline Al2O3 (10 nm in diameter) and SiC (15 nm in diameter) powders, and a theoretical model of intragranular particle residual stress strengthening was investigated. The SiC nanoparticles in the Al2O3 grains create a normal compressive stress at the grain boundaries and a tangential tensile stress in the Al2O3 grains, resulting in the "strengthening" of the grain boundaries and "weakening" of the grains. The model gives a good explanation of the experimental results of the authors and others which are difficult to be explained by the existing strengthening models, i.e. the maximum strength is normally achieved at about 5 vol% of SiC particles in the Al2O3-SiC ceramic nanocomposites. According to the model, there exists an optimum amount of SiC for strengthening, below which the grain boundaries are not fully "strengthened" and the fracture is mainly intergranular, above which the grains are "weakened" too much and the fracture is mainly transgranular, and at which the fracture is a mixture of intergranular and transgranular.