We unravel the nature of twin boundary-associated strengthening in Fe-Mn-C twinning-induced plasticity steel (TWIPs) by micro-pillar compression tests. Dislocation interactions with a coherent twin boundary and their role on strain hardening were investigated. The results indicate that twin-matrix bundles dynamically introduced by deformation twinning and their interaction with dislocations are required for strengthening Fe-Mn-C TWIPs, while single coherent twin boundaries enable dislocation transmission. Correlative studies on orientation dependent deformation mechanisms, detailed dislocation-twin boundary interactions, and the resulting local stress-strain responses suggest that twin boundary-associated strengthening is primarily caused by the reduction of the mean free dislocation path in nano-twinned microstructures. (C) 2018 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.