This paper reports the creation of functionally graded NiTi thin plates by means of surface laser annealing. Variation in the heat penetrating the plate thickness created a progressive degree of annealing, and thus a microstructural gradient, within the thickness of the plate. Upon heating, the deformed plates undergo a temperature-induced progressive reverse transformation, consequently exhibiting a complex mechanical behaviour for actuation. These plates also exhibit enlarged temperature windows for the transformation, providing a mechanism for easy actuation control. (C) 2011 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.