The timing of regional deformation of the turbiditic Silurian���Devonian Hill End Trough in the northeastern Lachlan Orogen has been a contentious issue with one view ascribing the regional north���south folds and axial planar foliation to Middle Devonian basin inversion. Alternatively, it has been argued that given the low-angle discordance between Lower and Upper Devonian units on the Capertee and Molong highs, and the development of a dominant episode of folding mapped from the Hill End Trough into the adjoining highs, the major regional deformation is latest Devonian to early Carboniferous and predates intrusion of Bathurst-type granites at 358���314 Ma. We have approached the problem by analysing the gentle, upright, southeast-trending folds and deformation patterns in Devonian units of the northern Capertee High (Cudgegong area), drawing a cross-section across the Hill End Trough and reviewing the structure of two areas in the Molong High (west of Orange, and south of Wellington). Upper Devonian units on the highs are affected by fold patterns that extend into the underlying successions and have been interpreted as continuous into the central Hill End Trough, confirming the extent of the latest Devonian to early Carboniferous regional deformation in the northeastern Lachlan Orogen. Constraints from timing of deposition and radiometric ages are ambiguous and imply deformation was overlapping with sedimentation, as has also been inferred from sedimentary features of the Upper Devonian succession. Steeply dipping faults along the highs predated the Late Devonian and were probably formed in extension during formation of the Hill End Trough and were reactivated during basin inversion and potentially during Upper Devonian sedimentation. Our conclusion is that the simplest hypothesis is that the regional east���west shortening was of latest Devonian to early Carboniferous age, although poorly understood basin inversion occurred in the Middle to Late Devonian. KEY POINTS The timing of the development of regional north���south folds in the northeastern Lachlan Orogen has been a contentious issue and is difficult to resolve, given the broad stratigraphic constraints and ambiguous radiometric ages. The simplest hypothesis remains that the regional deformation was of latest Devonian to early Carboniferous timing. Middle to Late Devonian deformation included reactivation of basin-forming steeply dipping faults during basin inversion and ongoing sedimentation.