Monocrystalline, cast aluminium microwires of diameter (D) below 25 mu m free of micromilling artefacts are annealed under protective atmosphere. Annealing increases the flow stress of all tested microwires, by an amount that is found, in a Haasen plot of measured activation area values, to be an athermal contribution to the flow stress that is attributed to surface oxide layer thickening. Microwires oriented for single slip with D similar to 14 mu m behave as do as-cast microwires with D similar to 7 mu m, showing a transition to higher and more stochastic flow stress values; this effect is attributed to a greater scarcity of dislocation sources after annealing. (C) 2018 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd.