The distinction between stable and unstable fatigue crack propagation during high temperature creep-fatigue in austenitic stainless steels is introduced. The transition from one class of behavior to the other is related to the precipitate distribution and to the nature of the prevailing crack path. It is shown by reference to new studies and examples drawn from the literature that this behavior is common to both high strain and predominantly elastic fatigue in austenitic stainless steels. The relevance of this distinction to a mechanistic approach to high temperature plant design is discussed.

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