The effect of increasing pre-stretching to higher levels, than are currently used in industrial practice, has been investigated on the strength, microstructure, and precipitation kinetics seen during artificial ageing an Al–Cu–Li alloy AA2195 - focussing on the behaviour of the main strengthening phase, T1. Increasing the pre-strain level, to the maximum obtainable before plastic instability (15%), resulted in an increase in the T8 yield strength to ∼ 670 MPa with a corresponding reduction in ductility from ∼11 to 7.5%. Microstructure data have been used to deconvolute and model the effects of increasing pre-strain on the main strengthening components that contribute to this large strength increase. The precipitation strengthening model proposed by Dorin et al.  has been successfully employed to calculate the strengthening contribution of the T1 phase and the increase in strength due to strain hardening has been modelled using X-ray line broadening measurements of dislocation density, using the modified Williamson–Hall approach. Refinement of the T1 phase was observed to continue to higher pre-strains than previously thought, but it is predicted that this leads to a reduction in the strengthening contribution from precipitation. In contrast a low level of recovery was observed during stretching, and artificial ageing, resulting in an increasing contribution form strain hardening with pre-strain. Thus, it is shown that increasing the pre-strain prior to ageing results in a reduction in the strengthening provided by the T1 phase, in favour of an increase in the strain hardening contribution.