One of the major challenges in the development of new steel grades is to get increasingly high strength combined with a low ductile brittle transition temperature and a high upper shelf energy. This requires the appropriate microstructural design. Toughness in steels is controlled by different microstructural constituents. Some of them, like inclusions, are intrinsic while others happening at different microstructural scales relate to processing conditions. A series of empirical equations express the transition temperature as a sum of contributions from substitutional solutes, free nitrogen, carbides, pearlite, grain size and eventually precipitation strengthening. Aimed at developing a methodology that could be applied to high strength steels, microstructures with a selected degree of complexity were produced at laboratory in a Nb-microalloyed steel. As a result a model has been developed that consistently predicts the Charpy curves for ferrite-pearlite, bainitic and quenched and tempered microstructures using as input data microstructural parameters. This model becomes a good tool for microstructural design.