This paper presents a model for fatigue life prediction for metals subjected to variable amplitude service loading. The model, which is based on crack growth and crack closure mechanisms for short fatigue cracks, incorporates a strain-based damage parameter, EΔε*, determined from the effective or open part of a strain cycle along with a fatigue resistance curve that takes the form: EΔε* = A(Nf)b, where E is the elastic modulus, Nf is the number of cycles to failure, and A and b are experimentally determined material constants. The fatigue resistance curve is generated for a SAE 1045 steel and the model is used successfully to predict the fatigue lives of smooth axial specimens subjected to two variable amplitude strain histories. The model is also used to predict the magnitude of non-damaging cycles that can be omitted from the strain histories to accelerate fatigue testing. The model appears to have general applicability to metals and this is supported by experimental data for a number of alloys subjected to various service strain histories.