AbstractThis study is motivated by discrepancies between recent experimental compression test data of nanoporus gold and the scaling laws for strength and elasticity by Gibson and Ashby. We present a systematic theoretical investigation of the relationship between microstructure and macroscopic behaviour of nanoporous metals. The microstructure is modelled by four-coordinated spherical nodes interconnected by cylindrical struts. The node positions are randomly displaced from the lattice points of a diamond lattice. We report scaling laws for Young’s modulus and yield strength, which depend on the extension of nodal connections between the ligaments and the solid fraction. A comparison with the scaling laws of Gibson and Ashby revealed a significant deviation for the yield stress. The model was applied for identifying a continuum constitutive law for the solid fraction. Matching the model’s predicted macroscopic stress–strain behaviour to experimental data for the flow stress at large compression strain requires the incorporation of work hardening in the constitutive law. Furthermore, the amount of disorder of the node positions is decisive in matching the model results to the experimental observations of an anomalously low stiffness and an almost complete lack of transverse plastic strain.