This work investigates how anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) recorded the strain related to the Early Cretaceous extensional processes in synrift sediments of the Maestrat basin (eastern Spain). Forty-two sites, distributed throughout the Lower Cretaceous sequence with dominant gentle dips, were sampled. Minerals contributing to the AMS are mainly phyllosilicates. The parallelism between magnetic and sedimentary foliation seems to indicate that a primary (synsedimentary and early diagenetic) magnetic fabric was preserved at 84% of sites. Consequently, preferred orientations of magnetic lineations are interpreted to record the effect of extensional processes coeval with sedimentation and diagenesis during this period. At these 35 sites, two main magnetic lineation orientations are found, delimiting two large domains: a NE–SW orientation prevailing in the NW sector of the basin (parallel to the extension direction of the Iberian basin), and NW–SE to NNW–SSE orientations to the SE (parallel to the extension direction controlling the western Tethys margin). Directional variability demonstrates that the Maestrat basin is located at the boundary between two domains (Iberian and Tethyan) undergoing different plate-scale extensional processes. The subsequent Cenozoic tectonic inversion affected the synsedimentary magnetic fabrics at only a few sites at the borders of the basin, where compressive features are more developed.