High-carbon steels have been used to high-strength steel wire and strands for prestressing concrete. The necessity of high-strength levels at increasingly larger diameters of wire rods is a technological challenge. Two steels with and without Nb were obtained in a steel mill, submitted to detailed microstructural (previous austenitic grain size, pearlite interlamellar spacing and colony size) and mechanical characterization through tensile tests and hardness. Hot torsion and dilatometry tests were performed to simulate steels processing and to verify the influence of Nb on phase transformation. Adding Nb to steel resulted in a refinement in austenitic grain size and pearlite colonies but had no effect on pearlitic interlamellar spacing. There was a decrease at the start transformation temperature austenite/pearlite and therefore an increase in the hardenability of the Nb-added steel. Finally, Nb addition proved to be a technical and economical way to increase tensile strength and to reduce the variability of the mechanical properties.