The effects of strain induced martensite formation and grain size on the room temperature low cycle fatigue behaviour of AISI 304LN austenitic stainless steel were considered. Two grain sizes, namely, 60 and 350 μm, were developed via suitable solution annealing treatments. Microstructural changes before and after low cycle fatigue testing were identified. The martensitic transformation was studied using aferritescope, X-ray diffractometry, and optical microscopy. The mechanical response was correlated with the microstructural changes. Secondary hardening as well as a crossover in the strain–life plots for the two grain sizes resulted from martensite formation. Dislocation configurations depended on the strains imposed. © 1994 The Institute of Materials.