The cyclic material behavior is investigated, by strain-controlled testing, of 8 mm thick sheet metal specimens and butt joints, manufactured by manual gas metal arc welding (GMAW). The materials used in this investigation are the high-strength structural steels S960QL, S960M and S1100QL. Trilinear strain-life curves and cyclic stress-strain curves have been derived for the base material and the as-welded state of each steel grade. Due to the cyclic softening in combination with a high load level at the initial load cycle, the cyclic stress-strain curve cannot be applied directly for a fatigue assessment of welded structures. Therefore, the transient effects have been analyzed in order to describe the time-variant material behavior in a more detailed manner. This should be the basis for the enhancement of the fatigue life estimation.