Thixotropy is essential to semi-solid processing, and because of it the semi-solid material is characterized by ‘shear shinning’. Here, thixotropic strength and thixotropic criteria in semi-solid processing are put forward based on related theories and experiments, and thixotropic mechanism and its influencing factors are also investigated. The results are as follows: 1) the term of thixotropic strength means that with constant shear rate at semi-solid temperature, the semi-solid body begins to flow when the shear stress reach a certain value. This value of shear stress is defined as the thixotropic strength; 2) Thixotropic behavior happens with ‘shear thinning’ because of the deagglomeration of solid particles, while ‘shear thickening’ happens because of the agglomeration at the same time. With increasing shear time, the shear stress increases first and then decreases rapidly to reach a stable value. 3) There are three important factors that influence ‘thixotropic strength’: temperature (hence solid content), initial microstructure (including size, shape factor and uniformity of solid particles) and shear rate.