In this study, mechanical alloying (MA) of elemental iron powders containing 1 wt% carbon was carried out under Ar atmosphere by using a high-energy ball mill for various milling time. In order to compare and determine the effect of MA on properties the same amount of powders were mixed by a conventional mixer up to 5 h. Particle size, shape and compressibility of the alloyed powders depending on the milling time were characterized. Powders were compacted at 1000 MPa to produce standard transverse rupture strength specimens. Specimens were then sintered at various temperatures for 2 h under Ar atmosphere in a tube furnace. Optical and SEM studies were conducted in order to determine the effect of temperature and MA durations on the degree Fe3C transformation on sintered specimen. Transverse rupture strength and hardness tests were carried out to find the mechanical properties of specimens. The results showed that the hardness, transverse rupture strength and microstructure of sintered compact specimens were affected by mechanical alloying time and sintering temperature. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.