This study is focused on the production of a dual-phase steel structure in the core of a surface-carburized AISI 8620 cementation steel and the effect of martensite volume fraction (MVF) and martensite particle size (MPS) on tensile properties. Experimental results showed that, compared with specimens with a fully martensitic microstructure in the core, those with a dual-phase microstructure in the core exhibited slightly lower tensile and yield strength but superior ductility without sacrificing surface hardness. In specimens with a dual-phase microstrucrure in the core, the tensile strength increased and ductility decreased with increasing MVF. Both the tensile strength and the ductility increased with decreasing MPS at constant MVF. The best combination of tensile strength and ductility was obtained with a fine NIPS at a constant MVF of 25%. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.