Annealing-induced hardening and deformation-induced softening behavior has recently been found in nanostructured aluminum (fcc) produced by severe plastic deformation. It has also been demonstrated that annealing led to a decrease in ductility while deformation led to an increase in ductility. These mechanical responses are totally opposite to those in conventional coarse-grained samples. The present study explores the effect of post-process annealing or deformation on mechanical properties of nanostructured interstitial free (IF) steel (bcc). Accumulative roll-bonding was used to produce the nanostructured IF steel. The deformation structure was characterized by a lamellar boundary structure with a mean spacing of about 200 nm, consisting of high-angle boundaries, low-angle dislocation boundaries and dislocations in the volume between the boundaries. When the deformed sample was annealed at 400°C for 0.5 h, the yield stress and ultimate tensile strength increased and the elongation to failure decreased markedly. In contrast, when the annealed treatment was followed by a light rolling deformation of 15 % thickness reduction, the strength decreased and the elongation to failure increased. These results are consistent with those observed in the aluminum samples. Structural observations by transmission electron microscopy indicated that a removal of dislocations between the boundaries leads to a lack of dislocation sources, resulting in a higher stress to activate alternative dislocation sources. It was suggested that deformation rather than annealing could be a new route to improve the ductility of nanostructured metals and that a moderate light deformation gives a good balance of strength and ductility.