The influence of the carbon concentration of directly reduced iron (DRI) powders on the compressibility and fracture strength of hot briquetted iron (HBI) has been studied. Industrially produced DRI, pure iron powder and Fe–C alloy powders (synthetic DRI) were used in the study. It was found that the mechanism of compaction could be attributed to pure yielding. The pressure required to attain a given density increased proportionally with the carbon content. The morphology and phases present in DRI powder had a significant influence on the compressibility. The fracture strength of the compacts increased with increasing carbon content of the DRI powder. These observations are discussed with reference to the current understanding of the mechanisms of compaction and fracture of compacted particulate materials.