An in situ annealing stage has been developed in-house and integrated in the chamber of a Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with an Electron BackScattered Diffraction system. Based on the Joule effect, this device can reach the temperature of 1200°C at heating rates up to 100°C/s, avoiding microstructural evolutions during heating. A high-purity tantalum deformed sample has been annealed at variable temperature in the range 750°C-1030°C, and classical mechanisms of microstructural evolutions such as recrystallization and grain coarsening phenomena have been observed. Quantitative measurements of grain growth rates provide an estimate of the mean grain boundary mobility, which is consistent with the value estimated from physical parameters reported for that material. In situ annealing therefore appears to be suited for complementing bulk measurements at relatively high temperatures, in the context of recrystallization and grain growth in such a single-phase material. © 2013 The Authors Journal of Microscopy © 2013 Royal Microscopical Society.