In order to determine the influence of intermediate deformation steps on the mechanical behavior of Bi-based tapes, the effect of longitudinal applied strain is investigated by means of magneto-optical imaging. The strain is applied in a helium flow-cryostat. Cracks appear soon after the critical current in Bi-based tapes is degraded. All filaments form multiple cracks that grow into tape-wide cracks, running from one filament to the next. The crack location is not caused by stress concentrations in the matrix, but by the mechanically weak colony boundaries. Because of the absence of intermediate rolling steps in the production of Bi/sub 2/Sr/sub 2/CaCu/sub 2/O/sub x/ tapes, a different crack structure is observed compared to Bi/sub 2/Sr/sub 2/Ca/sub 2/Cu/sub 3/O/sub x/ tapes. The relation between the critical current and the formation of cracks is studied. The degradation in critical current before the critical strain is reached may be caused by microcracks that remain undetected by magneto-optical imaging. The influence of strain on the microstructure of YBa/sub 2/Cu/sub 3/O/sub x/ coated conductors is also investigated with magneto-optical imaging. The formation of cracks is believed to be determined by the nickel substrate and related to the Ni-grain size.