An apparatus and method for defect and failure-mechanism testing of integrated circuits (ICs) is disclosed. The apparatus provides an operating voltage, V.sub.DD, to an IC under test and measures a transient voltage component, V.sub.DDT, signal that is produced in response to switching transients that occur as test vectors are provided as inputs to the IC. The amplitude or time delay of the V.sub.DDT signal can be used to distinguish between defective and defect-free (i.e. known good) ICs. The V.sub.DDT signal is measured with a transient digitizer, a digital oscilloscope, or with an IC tester that is also used to input the test vectors to the IC. The present invention has applications for IC process development, for the testing of ICs during manufacture, and for qualifying ICs for reliability.