Continuous cooling transformation (CCT) characteristics of microalloyed steels with different tungsten (W) contents (0, 0.1 and 1. wt.%) were investigated to obtain the necessary information for heat treatment of these steels. The effects of W addition on the sizes of prior austenite grains and precipitates were analysed. CCT diagrams were obtained by varying the cooling rates from 0.1 to 120. °C/s. Transformation characteristics were determined by using dilatometer test, microscopic observation and hardness measurement. The results showed that W had a positive effect on the refinement of prior austenite grains and precipitates. The CCT diagrams exhibited that the ranges of transformation products were shifted to the right side of the diagram when the W content increased. CCT diagram for steel with 0.1% W was similar in shape to that without W. The addition of 1% W induced two separated transformation ranges in the cooling rate range of 0.1 to 1. °C/s in the diagram. Both the austenitisation starting and finishing temperatures were raised as W was added. W addition induced decreased critical cooling rates for phase transformations and obtaining complete ferrite + pearlite microstructures. The martensite transformation temperature was decreased after W addition. The addition of W caused increased hardness, and the hardness obeyed an exponential type relationship with cooling rate. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.