Cold expansion of fastener holes is a common way of improving fatigue performance of airframes. Among the several techniques applicable, the split-steeve method is the most accepted in creating beneficial compressive residual stresses around expanded holes. In the present work, residual stresses at expanded holes in several types of aluminium plates produced by two different techniques, split-sleeve and roller burnishing, have been evaluated by the novel destructive Sachs method and then compared. It was found that stress distribution particularly at the vicinity of the hole was sensitive to the method of expansion and plate thickness, due to differing characteristics of the plastic material flow. Thus, secondary reverse yielding after cold expansion found to reduce residual hoop stresses at the edge of the hole, and excessive expansion above a limit, was thought to increase reverse yielding. S-N data revealed that no benefit was gained from expanding beyond this limit. It was suggested that the reduction in the number of cycles to crack initiation or more often to crack growth was due to increased reverse yielding at the vicinity of the expanded hole. (C) 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers.