Due to its nature, the cold expansion of holes is a three-dimensional process. However, most analytical and experimental techniques developed for determining residual strains and stresses at cold expanded holes are two-dimensional. In the present work, the method of step drilling was used to construct the through thickness pattern of residual hoop stress at a specific orientation of a split sleeve cold expanded hole. Thus, stress distribution in three dimensions was sketched in detail as a topography to portray the stress field at the vicinity of the hole. At this orientation and particularly at the mid-section, stress profiles predicted by the methods of Fourier series expansion, neutron diffraction and a recent finite element analysis are in good agreement with that of the step drilling method. A comparison was also carried out between the topographies of step drilling and neutron diffraction. Good correlation was obtained especially when gauge volume averaging was taken into account.