The deformation of 304 stainless steel strips with a spherical inclusion during cold rolling was simulated by 3D finite element method, and the strain distribution was calculated for a variety of the material attribution of inclusion (hard inclusions and soft inclusions) and the inclusion size (10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 μm). During rolling, the strain in front of inclusion is larger than that in rear of inclusion for both the hard and soft inclusions. For hard inclusions, the strain in front and rear of inclusions is larger than that of inclusions, and the maximum and minimum strains increase with the increase of inclusion diameter (from 10 μm to 50 μm). For soft inclusions, the strain in front and rear of inclusions is smaller than that of inclusions, and the maximum and minimum strains decrease with the increase of inclusion sizes when the inclusion diameter is larger than 20 μm but increase when the inclusion diameter is smaller than 20 μm. Finally, the relationship between the inclusion deformation and the crack generation was discussed. © 2008 The Nonferrous Metals Society of China.