In this paper, we investigated one of the promising applications of left-handed metamaterials: composite metamaterial based cavities. Four different cavity structures operating in the microwave regime were constructed, and we observed cavity modes on the transmission spectrum with different quality factors. The effective permittivity and permeability of the CMM structure and cavity structure were calculated by use of a retrieval procedure. Subsequently, in taking full advantage of the effective medium theory, we modeled CMM based cavities as one dimensional Fabry-Perot resonators with a subwavelength cavity at the center. We calculated the transmission from the Fabry-Perot resonator model using the one-dimensional transfer matrix method, which is in good agreement with the measured result. Finally, we investigated the Fabry-Perot resonance phase condition for a CMM based cavity, in which the condition was satisfied at the cavity frequency. Therefore, our results show that it is possible to treat metamaterial based cavities as one-dimensional Fabry-Perot resonators with a subwavelength cavity. (C) 2008 Optical Society of America.