Abstract Several alloy systems can be selected for high-temperature shape memory alloys (HTSMA) with stable transformation temperatures above 390 K. However, due to the lack of minimum quality standards for stability, ductility, functional behavior and reliability, no successful application have been realized so far. This paper will cover some recent developments in design of the novel Zr–Cu-based HTSMA system through the comparison with Ti–Ni–Zr and Ti–Ni–Hf alloys. Important peculiarities in shape memory behaviour of HTSMA systems mentioned above will be emphasized. Chemical homogeneity for HTSMA systems under study as well as their martensitic transformation temperatures stability and oxidation resistance will be compared also. Finally, a comparison of the weak and strong parts of Zr–Cu-based, Ti–Ni–Zr and Ti–Ni–Hf HTSMA systems will be pointed out.