We have grown epitaxial single-crystal magnetotunnel junctions using Fe(001) substrates, MgO(001) spacers and Fe top electrodes. We have used scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy to measure the tunneling characteristics as a function of position and demonstrated that local tunneling can be obtained such that the buried MgO can be characterized with nm resolution. Local I(V) curves revealed that most of the area had intrinsic tunneling properties corresponding to the proper MgO tunneling barrier. A small fraction of the scanned areas showed localized spikes in the tunneling current which are most likely caused by defects in the MgO. (C) 2001 American Institute of Physics.