In this study the effect of thermo-mechanical controlled rolling and continuous cooling of different grades of steel wire rod (e.g. high-carbon for cold drawing applications, medium-carbon micro-alloyed for cold forming) has been analysed through the application of a set of integrated mathematical models simulating hot rolling and continuous cooling, and a laboratory work involving hot rolling simulation on a pilot plant and heat treatments on a laboratory scale. The samples have been characterised by means of instrumented tensile tests, metallographic analyses including determination of pearlite interlamellar spacing, and controlled compression tests. The results show that: - The mechanical strength of high-carbon steel is essentially related to interlamellar pearlite spacing, and can be enhanced through the control of continuous cooling. Improvements in cold drawability can be obtained by means of prior austenitic grain size (PAGS) reduction, through the application of thermo-mechanically controlled hot deformation processes. - In the case of medium-carbon micro-alloyed steels for cold forming, the reduced PAGS achieved by means of thermo-mechanically controlled process reflects on a closer control of as-rolled mechanical properties, avoiding hardness hot spots asking for annealing treatments before cold forming. Moreover, the finer ferrite grain size could affect the forces needed during forming at the same deformation level.