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The role of silicon in the precipitation of the σ phase (Al5Cu6Mg2) has been investigated through comparative studies on Al-3.63Cu-1.67Mg (wt%) and Al-3.63Cu-1.67Mg-0.5Si alloys. Both alloys were extensively examined after solution treating at 525°C for 2.5 h followed by ageing at 265°C for times up to 650 h. Limited studies were also undertaken on both alloys after ageing at 200 and 305°C. Precipitation of σ was observed in Al-3.62%Cu-1.66%Mg-0.5%Si for all ageing conditions studied but was absent in Si-free Al-3.62%Cu-1.66%Mg. In addition, S′ and θ′ phases were observed in both alloys. The volume fraction of σ phase in the Si containing alloy was substantially reduced by a pre-age stretch followed by ageing for 24 h at 265°C with S′ being the dominant precipitate type. The volume fraction of σ phase in the Si containing alloy was lower after ageing 24 h at 200°C than after 24 h at 265 and 305°C. Peak hardness was higher for the Si free alloy on ageing at 200 and 265°C, but the Si free alloy softened more rapidly, reflecting the more rapid coarsening kinetics of S′ compared with σ.