This study provides a theoretical and experimental investigation of the effect of static shear stresses on the highcycle fatigue behaviour of a 34CrNiMo6 high-strength steel under quenched and tempered conditions. Torsion S–N curves under different mean shear stresses were obtained. Experimental results show that an increase in mean shear stress yields a gradual reduction in shear-stress amplitude that the material can withstand without failure. The results for this steel agree well with the Smith’s hypothesis for ductile steels, which states that the effect of the torsional mean stresses on the torsional fatigue limit is negligible as long as the maximum shear stress is within the torsional yield strength. Taking into account the results collected from the literature and the experimental results on torsional fatigue of 34CrNiMo6 steel, an extension of the theory of Crossland is proposed to include the mean-shear-stress effect. Its application to the torsional fatigue case with mean shear stresses can be interpreted in terms of a balance of the energy of distortion. Macro-analyses of the specimen fracture appearance were conducted to obtain the fracture characteristics for different mean-shear-stress values under torsion fatigue loading.