The austenite recrystallization kinetics in the intercritical region of a C-Mn steel is investigated by means of stress relaxation tests. It is found that the Avrami exponent, n, decreases significantly with decreasing temperature, i.e. with increasing ferrite fraction. This behaviour deviates from that of austenite recrystallization in the purely austenitic state, in which case the Avrami exponent is constant and independent of temperature and deformation. To interpret this, the influence of spatial variation of the plastic strain in the intercritical austenite grains on recrystallization kinetics is modelled quantitatively. The modelling results seem to indicate that the strain heterogeneity is responsible for the decreasing Avrami exponent with decreasing intercritical temperature.