To establish the integrity of pressure water reactor (PWR) vessels it is necessary to determine the toughness of A508C1.3 steel at the end of its life, that is after thermal ageing and irradiation embrittlement. In safety analyses the toughness can be deduced from a reference curve set forth in the code (ASME or RCC-M). The validity of the reference curve has been verified for several years for unirradiated French reactor vessels. Tests were performed on specimens taken from materials having heterogeneities in chemical composition. For most of the test results the reference curve is a lower bound. To solve the problem of determining the toughness of SA 508 C1.3 steel after irradiation and in the presence of possible heterogeneities, the toughness results were gathered. The synthesis shows that the RCC-M code curve is conservative.