Abstract During Pliocene and pléistocène times, the Strait of Messina was subjected to extensional tectonism, which was contemporaneous with marine sedimentary processes. Various tectonic-sedimentary features created by this combination of processes are reviewed: depocentres, synsedimentary truncations, and the association of sedimentary dykes related to extensional fissuring and hydraulic fracturing. These features are regarded as characteristic accompaniments to extensional block faulting. The recent structural evolution of the Strait of Messina margins provides an illustration of high-magnitude vertical movements occurring within a short time interval. The subsidence phase is related to fault movements, which generate important fault scarps and sedimentary dykes. Phases of upheaval, in contrast, correspond to a general uplift of the margins unrelated to the local fault movements.