Studies on the early-age shrinkage behavior of cement pastes, mortars, and concretes containing shrinkage reducing admixtures (SRAs) have indicated these mixtures frequently exhibit an expansion shortly after setting. While the magnitude of the expansion has been noted to be a function of the chemistry of the cement and the admixture dosage: the cause of the expansion is not clearly understood. This investigation uses measurements of autogenous deformation, X-ray diffraction, pore solution analysis, thermogravimetry, and scanning electron microscopy to study the early-age properties and describe the mechanism of the expansion in OPC pastes made with and without SRA. The composition of the pore solution indicates that the presence of the SRA increases the portlandite oversaturation level in solution which can result in higher crystallization stresses which could lead to an expansion. This observation is supported by deformation calculations for the systems examined. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.