Grain refinement via semi-solid deformation is desired to obtain superior mechanical properties of cast components. Using quantitative in situ synchrotron X-ray tomographic microscopy, we show an additional mechanism for the reduction of grain size, via liquation assisted transgranular cracking of semi-solid globular microstructures. Here we perform localized indentation of Al-15wt.%Cu globular microstructures, with an average grain size of ~480 μm, at 555 °C (74% solid fraction). Although transgranular fracture has been observed in brittle materials, our results show transgranular fracture can also occur in metallic alloys in semi-solid state. This transgranular liquation cracking (TLC) occurs at very low contact stresses (between 1.1 and 38 MPa). With increasing strain, TLC continues to refine the size of the microstructure until the grain distribution reaches log-normal packing. The results demonstrate that this refinement, previously attributed to fragmentation of secondary arms by melt-shearing, is also controlled by an additional TLC mechanism.