The Tauern window exposes a section through some of the major Alpine thrust sheets. Deformation phases both within and around the southern and eastern margins of the Tauern window are shown to correlate. Different pre-Alpine structural and thermal histories are recognized in the metamorphic rocks of the Pennine basement and the allochthonous Altkristallin sheet. Over-thrusting took place during two main phases of deformation, and most of the associated strain was taken up by a mélange of largely Mesozoic metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks (the Peripheral Schieferhülle and the Unterostalpin). The consistent orientations of the pre-Alpine structures within the Altkristallin sheet and the consistent displacement directions derived from the Alpine fold orientations in the underlying units (implying overthrusting toward the northeast), suggest that the Altkristallin was emplaced as a coherent unit with little internal deformation.