Abstract The influence of an aggressive environment (0.6 M, aerated NaCl solution) on short fatigue crack initiation and growth behaviour has been studied. The study involved three major test series, namely: air fatigue, corrosion fatigue, and intermittent air fatigue/corrosion fatigue. The above tests carried out under fully reversed torsional loading conditions at a frequency of 5 Hz, showed that it was the non-metallic inclusions which took part in crack initiation resulting from debonding at metal matrix/inclusion interface and pitting of inclusions in both air and corrosove environments, respectively. Short fatigue crack growth results in these two environments obtained by using plastic replication technique, indicated a large effect of microstructure i.e. prior austenite grain boundaries. The stage/stages at which the environmental contribution was dominant has been discussed by considering the results achieved from intermittent tests. However, the mechanisms involved in corrosion fatigue short crack growth have also been described in the light of results obtained from futher investigations carried out by conducting corrosion fatigue tests under applied cathodic potential conditions and tests on hydrogen pre-charged specimens under air fatigue and uniaxial tension conditions.