The effects on tenderness of extended ageing of longissimus thoracis (LT, striploin) muscle that differed in structure and composition were examined. Spring-born Angus × Holstein-Friesian heifers (n = 48) and Belgian Blue × Holstein-Friesian heifers (n = 48) were slaughtered, within sire breed, at 20 or 25 mo of age. Approximately 48 h post-mortem, LT steaks (2.5 cm) were removed, and either stored at −20°C for chemical analysis or vacuum-packed, stored at 2°C for 7, 14 or 28 d post-mortem and then at −20°C pending Warner–Bratzler shear force (WBSF) analysis. Muscle from Angus-sired heifers had higher (P < 0.001) intramuscular fat (IMF) concentration, lower (P < 0.001) proportion of type IIX muscle fibres and higher (P < 0.001) proportion of type IIA and type I muscle fibres compared to muscle from Belgian Blue-sired heifers. Collagen characteristics did not differ between sire breeds. Later slaughter increased (P < 0.001) IMF concentration and decreased (P < 0.001) total and insoluble concentrations and collagen solubility. There were no interactions between the main effects for WBSF and no difference between sire breeds. Later slaughter and increasing the duration of ageing decreased (P < 0.05) WBSF. Based on threshold WBSF values in the literature, all samples would be considered tender (<39 N) after 7 d ageing. Untrained consumers are likely to detect the decrease in WBSF from 7 to 14 d ageing but not due to further ageing. Within the production system examined and based on WBSF data, extending LT ageing to 28 d is not necessary to ensure consumer satisfaction.