In the present study, the effect of welding process and procedure on fatigue crack initiation from notches and fatigue crack propagation in AISI 304L stainless steel welds was experimentally investigated. Full penetration, double-vee butt welds have been fabricated and CCT type specimens were used. Lawrence's local-stress approach (a two-stage model) is used to predict the fatigue life. The notch-root stress method was applied to calculate the fatigue crack initiation life, while the fatigue crack propagation life was estimated using fracture mechanics concepts. The fatigue notch factor is calculated using Lawrence's approach. Constant amplitude fatigue tests with stress ratio, R =0 were carried out using 100 kN servo-hydraulic DARTEC universal testing machine with a frequency of 30 Hz. The predicted lives were compared with the experimental values. A good agreement has been reached. It is found that the weld procedure has a stronger effect on lives to initiation than on propagation lives. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.