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The use of cryogenic treatment (CT) to improve mechanical properties of materials has been developed from the end of the Sixties. At the present time, the initial mistrust about CT has been cleared up and many papers about different materials reporting laboratory tests results, microstructural investigations and hypothesis on CT strengthening mechanisms have been published. The removal of retained austenite combined with fine dispersed η-carbides precipitation have been widely observed and their effects on mechanical properties have been measured. In addition, some recent studies have pointed out a different mechanism for fatigue strengthening of stainless steels, which involves nano-martensite formation during the CT. The present paper summarizes the state of art about CT, focusing on methods, parameters, results and assumed microstructural mechanisms, in order to get a starting point for new researches to come.