High-carbon chromium martensite steels are commonly selected for bearing components in the power generation, automotive and aerospace industries where fatigue failure is a major concern. Accordingly, it is of importance to elucidate the structure-property relationships governing the fatigue properties of such bearing steels. Here, the role of microstructure in influencing the fatigue-crack propagation behavior of a high-carbon chromium SUJ2 bearing steel is examined with emphasis on three martensitic structures: (i) a fine-grained (∼10 μm) structure with intragranular (but no intergranular) carbides, (ii) a coarser-grained (∼25 μm) structure with discontinuous grain-boundary carbides primarily near triple junctions, and (iii) a coarse-grained (∼31 μm) structure with continuous grain-boundary carbides. Although growth rates were fairly similar above ∼10−8 m/cycle, significant differences in behavior were observed at lower, near-threshold growth rates; specifically at a load ratio of 0.1, the ΔKth fatigue threshold was increased from 3.8 MPa m½ in the fine-grained structure to 5.9 to 6.3 MPa m½ in the two coarser-grained structures. The dominant factor governing such near-threshold behavior was found to be crack-tip shielding from roughness-induced crack closure, which was most pronounced in the coarser-grained structures; additionally, shielding from crack deflection and branching was apparent in these structures as the crack propagated through the network of intersecting martensite lamellae within the coarse grains. Compared to high-strength stainless steels and low-strength carbon steels, the fine-grained SUJ2 steel displays an exceptional combination of high strength and fatigue-crack growth resistance and is considered to be a superior structural alloy for bearing applications.