Deformation behavior of slab at the straightening stage during continuous casting was simulated by the explicit dynamic finite element method, and the stress distribution along the width direction of the slab and its change regularity at slab center during continuous casting were obtained. The influence of distribution and change of stress on the propagation of longitudinal cracks on slab surface was discussed. The results show that the tensional stress appears on slab surface at the inner arc side and the compressive stress appears on slab surface at the outer arc side at stages 6-8 in straightening zone during continuous casting. Longitudinal cracks generally appear on slab top surface and do not appear on slab bottom surface, which are also observed in industry. © Central South University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010.