Solid-state neutron detectors with high performance are highly sought after for the detection of fissile materials. However, direct-conversion neutron detectors based on semiconductors with a measureable efficiency have not been realized. We report here the first successful demonstration of a direct-conversion semiconductor neutron detector with an overall detection efficiency for thermal neutrons of 4% and a charge collection efficiency as high as 83%. The detector is based on a 2.7 μm thick 10B-enriched hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) epitaxial layer. The results represent a significant step towards the realization of practical neutron detectors based on h-BN epilayers. Neutron detectors based on h-BN are expected to possess all the advantages of semiconductor devices including wafer-scale processing, compact size, light weight, and ability to integrate with other functional devices.