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Zener’s model of pearlite transformation in steels can be viewed as the prototype of many microstructure evolution models in materials science. It links principles of thermodynamics and kinetics to the scale of the microstructure. In addition it solves a very practical problem: How the hardness of steel is correlated to the conditions of processing. Although the model is well established since the 1950s, quantitative explanation of growth kinetics was missing until very recently. The present paper will shortly review the classical model of pearlite transformation. Zener’s conjecture of maximum entropy production will be annotated by modern theoretical and experimental considerations of a band of stable (sometimes oscillating) states around the state of maximum entropy production. Finally, an explanation of the growth kinetics observed in experiments is proposed based on diffusion fluxes driven by stress gradients due to large transformation strain.