Abstract : Some cases of cracking of 304L austenitic stainless steel components due to thermal fatigue were encountered in particular on the Residual Heat Removal Circuits (RHR) of the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). EDF has initiated a R&D program to understand assess the risks of damage on nuclear plant mixing zones. The INTHERPOL test developed at EDF is designed in order to perform pure thermal fatigue test on tubular specimen under monofrequential thermal load. These tests are carried out under various loadings, surface finish qualities and welding in order to give an account of these parameters on crack initiation. The main topic of this study is the research of a fatigue criterion using a micro:macro modelling approach. The first part of work deals with material characterization (stainless steel 304L) emphasing the specificities of the surface roughness link with a strong hardening gradient. The first results of the characterization on the surface show a strong work-hardening gradient on a 250 microns layer. This gradient does not evolved after thermal cycling. Micro hardness measurements and TEM observations were intensively used to characterize this gradient. The second part is the macroscopic modelling of INTHERPOL tests in order to determine the components of the stress and strain tensors due to thermal cycling. The third part of work is thus to evaluate the effect of surface roughness and hardening gradient using a calculation on a finer scale. This simulation is based on the variation of dislocation density. A goal for the future is the detemination of the fatigu criterion mainly based on polycrystalline modelling. Stocked energy or critical plane being available that allows making a sound choice for the criteria.