An Al–Zn–Mg–Cu (Al-7B04) aluminium alloy in two conditions, i.e. with an artificial aging (7B04-AA) temper and with an annealing (7B04-O) temper, was friction-stir processed using water cooling, and the microstructure and the mechanical properties of the stir zone (SZ) were investigated. Compared with the samples subjected to air cooling, the SZs of water-cooled samples were strengthened, and the degree of strengthening depended on the initial base metal temper. For friction-stir-processed material after an 7B04-O temper, the efficiency of strengthening was relatively high due not only to the refinement of grains and strengthening precipitates but also due to the high solution level in the SZ. In contrast, the slight strengthening of friction-stir-processed 7B04-AA resulted solely from grain refinement.