AbstractThe present study aims to investigate the extent to which the fatigue behaviour of laser beam‐welded AA6056‐T6 butt joints with an already existing crack can be improved through the application of laser shock peening. Ultrasonic testing was utilized for in situ (nondestructive) measurement of fatigue crack growth during the fatigue test. This procedure allowed the preparation of welded specimens with surface fatigue cracks with a depth of approximately 1.2 mm. The precracked specimens showed a 20% reduction in the fatigue limit compared with specimens without cracks in the as‐welded condition. Through the application of laser shock peening on the surfaces of the precracked specimens, it was possible to recover the fatigue life to the level of the specimens tested in the as‐welded condition. The results of this study show that laser shock peening is a very promising technique to recover the fatigue life of welded joints with surface cracks, which can be detected by nondestructive testing.