We present near-infrared K-band imaging of a large sample of candidate merger remnant galaxies and Hickson Compact Group ellipticals. We derive light profile indices, effective radii and surface brightnesses, as well as total K-band magnitudes. We find that the light distributions of the merger remnant candidates are consistent with those of `normal' ellipticals, and scatter around a mean profile index of (1/n) = 0.20. Many of our sample galaxies have surface brightness profiles that are not well described by a de Vaucouleurs law (1/n= 0.25), and we discuss the implications of this on the derived total magnitudes. Comparing the total K magnitudes calculated by extrapolating a de Vaucouleurs profile and those derived using a generalized Sérsic form, we find that a significant bias is introduced if the de Vaucouleurs law is not a good description of the actual light profile.