We report a combined experimental and theoretical analysis of Sb and In segregation during the epitaxial growth of InAs self-assembled quantum dot structures covered with a GaSbAs strain-reducing capping layer. Cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy shows strong Sb and In segregation which extends through the GaAsSb and into the GaAs matrix. We compare various existing models used to describe the exchange of group III and V atoms in semiconductors and conclude that commonly used methods that only consider segregation between two adjacent monolayers are insufficient to describe the experimental observations. We show that a three-layer model originally proposed for the SiGe system is instead capable of correctly describing the extended diffusion of both In and Sb atoms. Using atomistic modeling, we present strain maps of the quantum dot structures that show the propagation of the strain into the GaAs region is strongly affected by the shape and composition of the strain-reduction layer. © 2009 The American Physical Society.