The formation of thaumasite was investigated with the progressive equilibrium approach (PEA). This approach experimentally simulates the conditions of various levels of sulfate addition in hardened cement pastes. The influence of limestone, time, C(3)A content, temperature and leaching on thaumasite formation was investigated. The results show that thaumasite formation is favoured at lower temperatures (8 degrees C) independently of the type of cement clinker (high or low C(3)A content) used. Thaumasite was found to form only in systems where limestone was present and where sufficient sulfate had been added. Thaumasite precipitated only in systerns where the Al present has already been consumed to form ettringite and the inolar SO3/Al2O3 ratio exceeded 3. In leached samples (reduction of portlandite and alkalis) slightly less thaumasite was formed whereas gypsum and ettringite are favoured under these conditions. The PEA, used to investigate the chemical aspects of sulfate attack was found to be a good tool for simulating external sulfate attack. Generally, thaumasite was detected were it was modelled to be stable in significant amounts. However, in this study equilibrium conditions were not reached after 9 months. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.