Abstract The effect of sodium chloride solution, freeze–thaw cycling and externally applied load on the performance of concrete was experimentally investigated. The results show that the concrete specimens subjected to freeze–thaw cycling scaled more severely in chloride salt solution than those in water, and weight losses of the specimens tested in chloride salt solution were twice as much as those tested in water. However, dynamic modulus of elasticity of the concrete specimens decreased more slowly in chloride salt solution than in water due to the decline in the freezing point of the chloride salt solution compared with water. It is also shown that the performance deterioration in the concrete subjected to multidamaging processes was significantly accelerated. The larger the stress ratios, the fewer freeze–thaw cycles the concrete could bear. When steel fiber is incorporated, performance degradation in the steel fiber-reinforced concrete exposed to the multidamaging processes could be considerably retarded.