The available to date experimental results are reviewed with regard to the common aspects and features of monotonic and cyclic stress-strain behavior of various ultra-fine grain materials produced by severe plastic deformation (SPD). Some possible mechanisms of plastic flow and degradation during monotonic and cyclic testing are discussed from the standpoint of initial SPD structure and its evolution upon loading. The role of two strengthening mechanisms – dislocation accumulation and grain reduction - is highlighted. The key importance of grain boundaries for the mechanical behavior, strain localization and fracture of ultra-fine grain metals is argued and the experimental evidence is presented on the significance of grain boundary sliding in their plastic deformation. The results of phenomenological modeling of the monotonic and cyclic response of ultra-fine grain metals are presented in terms of dislocation kinetics and a satisfactory agreement with experimental data is demonstrated.