A deformation behaviour of, and damage in, polymer-based thermally bonded nonwovens was studied with a parametric finite-element model. Microstructure of the studied nonwoven was modelled by direct introduction of fibres and bond points, employing a subroutine-based parametric technique. This technique helped to implement variations in dimensional characteristics of structural entities related with manufacturing of these materials. Following experimental observations, a realistic orientation distribution of fibres and single-fibre failure criteria were included into the model. The developed model was demonstrated to be a very useful tool not only for predicting effects of parameters related to manufacturing of nonwovens or of specimen's size on a macroscopic response of the nonwoven but also for getting an insight into deformation mechanisms and damage localization in its structure. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.