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Several mesophase pitch-based carbon fibres showing radial textures in their transverse alignments were observed by high resolution scanning electron microscope (HR-SEM) to elucidate the principal factor that induces the open crack in the transverse sections of the fibre along its fibre axis. The HR-SEM images of transverse sections exhibited various features in the alignment and shapes of the domains, although they were approximately arranged in the radial direction. The alignment of the domains was often variable in the locations from the outer part to the centre. Linear domains radially oriented in the outer part of the transverse section, that induce the circumferential shrinkage at the spinning and further heat-treatment steps, were essential for the development of open cracks with the PAC-man shaped fibre. Non-radial alignment or non-linear, bent or loop domains in the outer parts prohibited the development of the crack; these are observed in the fibres with the radial skin–random core and the onion skin–radial core alignments. Fibres without cracks in their as-spun or stabilized states usually showed shallow cracks even after the graphitization because the bent and loop domains in the intermediate and centre parts prohibited cracks from propagating into the centre part because the graphitic shrinkage along the domain shapes cannot be linear.