Abstract The 40Ca( 16O, 3pγ) 53Mn reaction has been used at a beam energy of 45 MeV to search for high-spin states in 53Mn. By means of the techniques of in-beam γ-ray spectroscopy, the excitation functions, γ-γ coincidences, angular distributions, linear polarizations and simplified triple angular correlations were measured. A new decay scheme for high-spin states is given. For the following levels (MeV), we deduced spin-parity assignments; 2.56, 13 2 − (confirmed); 3.44, 15 2 −; 4.38, ( 17 2 −); 5.61 ( 19 2 −); 6.53, ( 21 2 −); 7.00, ( 23 2 −). Mixing ratios are also reported. It is only with this spin sequence that the experimental populations of these states are well reproduced by compound nucleus evaporation calculations. High-spin states are successfully interpreted by including neutron excitations out of the f 7 2 shell.