This paper presents an analytical model describing the deformation behaviour of functionally graded NiTi plates under tensile loading and their shape recovery during heating. The property gradient of the plate is achieved by either a compositional gradient or microstructural gradient through the thickness. Closed-form solutions are obtained for nominal stress-strain variations of such plates under uniaxial loading at different deformation stages. It is observed that the martensitic transformation occurs partially over the nominal stress gradient, unlike typical NiTi shape memory alloys. The curvature-temperature relations are established for complex shape memory effect behaviour of such plates during the recovery period. The analytical solutions are validated with relevant experimental results. © 2013 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.