The influence of initial perturbation geometry and material properties on final fold geometry has been investigated using finite-difference (FLAC) and finite-element (MARC) numerical models. Previous studies using these two different codes reported very different folding behaviour although the material properties, boundary conditions and initial perturbation geometries were similar. The current results establish that the discrepancy was not due to the different computer codes but due to the different strain rates employed in the two previous studies (i.e. 10-6 s-1 in the FLAC models and 10-14 s-1 in the MARC models). As a result, different parts of the elasto-viscous rheological field were being investigated. For the same material properties, strain rate and boundary conditions, the present results using the two different codes are consistent. A transition in folding behaviour, from a situation where the geometry of initial perturbation determines final fold shape to a situation where material properties control the final geometry, is produced using both models. This transition takes place with increasing strain rate, decreasing elastic moduli or increasing viscosity (reflecting in each case the increasing influence of the elastic component in the Maxwell elastoviscous rheology). The transition described here is mechanically feasible but is associated with very high stresses in the competent layer (on the order of GPa), which is improbable under natural conditions. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.