Thixocasting requires manufacturing of billets with non-dendritic microstructure. Aluminum alloy A356 billets were produced by rheocasting in a mould placed inside a linear electromagnetic stirrer. Subsequent heat treatment was used to produce a transition from rosette to globular microstructure. The current and the duration of stirring were explored as control parameters. Simultaneous induction heating of the billet during stirring was quantified using experimentally determined thermal profiles. The effect of processing parameters on the dendrite fragmentation was discussed. Corresponding computational modeling of the process was performed using phase-field modeling of alloy solidification in order to gain insight into the process of morphological changes of a solid during this process. A non-isothermal alloy solidification model was used for simulations. The morphological evolution under such imposed thermal cycles was simulated and compared with experimentally determined one. Suitable scaling using the thermosolutal diffusion distances was used to overcome computational difficulties in quantitative comparison at system scale. The results were interpreted in the light of existing theories of microstructure refinement and globularisation. © 2010 The Nonferrous Metals Society of China.