The strip quality is affected by the shape and the distribution of inclusions. The investigation of inclusion deformation in rolling process is significant for understanding the deformation mechanism of inclusion and guiding production. In present work, the behavior of spherical non-metallic inclusions in type 304 stainless steel strips during multi-pass cold rolling has been simulated by 3D finite element method and updating geometric method. The shape of inclusions is obtained under a variety of the inclusion sizes and positions. The inclusions elongate along rolling direction and compress along strip thickness direction, but slightly change along strip width direction. When the inclusion diameter is less than 10 μm, the inclusion scarcely deforms. As the inclusion sizes increase, the inclusion deformation gradually increases. The inclusion deformation also increases with the inclusion approaching the strip surface. As the rolling pass increases, the differences of inclusion shapes increase under various inclusion sizes and positions. The inclusion profile after cold rolling calculated by simulation is consistent with that by experiments. Finally, the relationship between the inclusion deformation and the crack generation is discussed. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.