Abstract A full rate-dependent constitutive theory for dynamic strain aging is developed based on two key ideas. The first idea is that both solute strengthening and forest strengthening must exist and must exhibit aging phenomena. The second idea is that a single physical aging mechanism, cross-core diffusion within a dislocation core, controls the aging of both the solute and forest strengthening mechanisms. All the material parameters in the model, apart from forest dislocation density evolution parameters, are derivable from atomistic-scale studies so that the theory contains essentially no adjustable parameters. The model predicts the steady-state stress/strain/strain-rate/temperature/concentration dependent material response for a variety of Al–Mg alloys, including negative strain-rate sensitivity, in qualitative and quantitative agreement with available experiments. The model also reveals the origin of non-additivity of solute and forest strengthening, and explains observed non-standard transient stress behavior in strain-rate jump tests.