A nonlinear ultrasonic technique has been developed to evaluate sensitization in Type 304 stainless steel. In order to achieve different degree of sensitization (DOS), specimens have been subjected to heat treatment at 675 °C at varying soaking time (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 h). Heat treated specimens were subjected to intergranular corrosion tests as per ASTM standards A262 and G108. Sensitization in longer soaked material has been confirmed through ditch microstructures, cracks on the bend tested specimens and higher degree of sensitization. Nonlinear ultrasonic studies showed variation in the nonlinearity parameter with soaking time which also confirms sensitization. A good correlation was observed between the degree of sensitization measured by the electrochemical potentiokinetic reactivation test and the ultrasonic nonlinearity parameter. This study clearly demonstrated that nonlinear ultrasonic technique can be used as a potential technique for non-destructive characterization of sensitization in austenitic stainless steel. © The Chinese Society for Metals and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.