In present research work, multi-pass friction stir processing was utilized for the as-cast Al–17%Si alloy. The multi-pass friction stir processing reproduced the aluminum (Al) matrix with a uniform distribution of the ultra-fine silicon (Si) particles. The multi-pass friction stir processing also resulted in the formation of refining cast microstructure with negligible porosity. The significant reduction in silicon particle size was measured and it reduced from 204 µm to 0.86 µm after the first pass and up to 0.30 µm after two pass friction stir processing. The frequency of fine Si particles was increased after two pass friction stir processing as compared to single pass friction stir processing. The engineering stress–strain curves revealed a significant enhancement in ductility and strength after one and two passes of friction stir processing as compared to the as-cast alloy. After one and two passes of friction stir processing, the ultimate tensile strength of as-cast alloy was enhanced by 24% and 31% and ductility was increased by 300% and 500%, respectively. The secondary electron micrograph of fracture surfaces of tensile specimens was taken before and after friction stir processing. The fractographs revealed the transformation from brittle mode to ductile dimples fracture after the multi-pass friction stir processing process. © IMechE 2017.