The yield strength in austenitic stainless steels can be improved by cold rolling. Recently, it has been realized that a considerable further increase can be achieved through static strain ageing (SSA). The effect of SSA in four austenitic stainless steel grades was studied. The test materials were formerly cold rolled to three different reductions of 15%, 30% and 40%. Subsequently, the steels were aged at temperature range between 160 and 400 °C with ageing times from 15 to 15000 seconds. Owing to SSA, increments over 200 MPa in yield strength were observed, while elongation decreased only slightly or even improved by 1 to 2%-units. The influence of ´-martensite on the strength increase was apparent. The maximum strength increase with relatively small drop of elongation was achieved in the steels cold rolled to 30% reduction while approximately 50% of ´- martensite was formed. However, a small increase in the yield strength was detected even in steels cold rolled to 15% reduction and containing 0 to 2% of ´-martensite only. Therefore, SSA seems also to take place in the austenite phase. To clarify the reason for improvement of the ductility in the instance of strengthening, work hardening rates were determined and found to differ considerably between aged and non-aged structures. The activation energy of the SSA process determined was found to be almost equal to the activation energy of carbon and nitrogen diffusion in the austenite phase. A mechanism resembling the Suzuki effect was suggested as the main mechanism of the SSA process.