The experimentally obtained fatigue limit of high strength steel is generally a value reduced by inherent flaws, and such a value does not characterize the resistance of the matrix of high strength steel to cyclic loading. To investigate the fatigue limit of the matrix, fatigue tests of 17-4PH stainless steel were performed. 17-4PH stainless steel showed a distinct dual-stage S-N curve: one stage corresponding to high stress where crack initiated at the surface and another stage corresponding to low stress where crack initiated from the subsurface inclusion (Al2O3). Based on small crack mechanics, a model was proposed to predict the fatigue limit of the matrix of 17-4PH stainless steel and its validity has been discussed.

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