In this paper we report the behaviour of defects under high pressure in severely cold-deformed 316 stainless steel. In situ electrical resistivity measurements indicate a minimum in the reduced resistivity ratio at 2 GPa associated with a characteristic relaxation time of 500 + - 5 sec. Microhardness data on pressure-treated and recovered samples are consistent with the electrical resistivity behaviour. X-ray powder diffraction rings indicate sharpening beyond 2 GPa. The decrease in the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the strongest ring is about 2% at pressures beyond 2 GPa. Transmission electron microscopy reveals that samples pressure treated beyond 2 GPa have a polygonized dislocation structure. This is in sharp contrast to the tangled dislocation structure observed in the cold-worked samples. The experimental results suggest a recovery stage in cold-worked stainless steel at 2 GPa. We propose that the recovery process is activated through an enhanced vacancy concentration caused by deformation, a pressure-induced vacancy-dislocation interaction and consequently a pressure-assisted dislocation mobility leading to polygonization.