Three different quenching media (water, oil and air) were used to compare the effect of cooling rate on the microstructure and mechanical properties of SA508-3 steel. The result has demonstrated that the microstructure for water-quenched specimen is the mixture of martensite and lower bainite, for oil-quenched specimen is the mixture of upper bainite，lower bainite and a little martensite, while for air-cooled specimen is mostly granular bainite. The product of water and oil Q&T was tempered martensite with qualified mechanical properties. The air-cooled granular bainite was translated to massive and allotriomorphic ferrite during tempering, which had poor mechanical properties. To avoid the formation of granular bainite, it is necessary to increase the cooling rate to above 5°C/s.