The combined influence of prior plastic strain in austenite and applied stress in the course of the transformation on the crystallographic texture of bainitic steel was studied. The experimental data were obtained using electron back scatter diffraction and analysed using two methodologically different approaches. It was concluded that the plastic deformation of parent austenite grains could suppress variant selection in bainite despite maintaining an externally applied load throughout the bainitic transformation. © 2011 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.