Combined microstructural, mineral chemical, X-ray maps and X-ray single-crystal diffraction analyses are used to reveal the behaviour of individual grains of magmatic allanite relicts hosted in variably deformed metagranitoids at Lago della Vecchia (inner part of the Sesia-Lanzo Zone, Western Alps, Europe), which experienced high-pressure and low-temperature metamorphism during the Alpine subduction. X-ray single-crystal diffraction shows that none of the allanite crystals, irrespective of the strain state of the host rock, record any evidence of plastic deformation (i.e. intracrystalline deformation), as indicated by the shape of the Bragg diffraction spots, the atomic site positions, and their displacement around the centre of gravity. On the contrary, strong plastic deformation affected matrix minerals, such as quartz, white mica and feldspar of the hosting rocks, during the development of the Alpine eclogitic- and blueschist-facies metamorphism. Despite the strain-free atomic structures of allanite, different patterns of chemical zoning, as a function of strain accumulated in the rock matrix, are observed. As allanite occurs in magmatic and metamorphic rocks and it is stable at high-pressure and low-temperature conditions, we infer that allanite could behave as one of the main carriers of light rare earth elements into the mantle wedge during subduction of continental crust. In particular, the release of light rare earth elements from allanite, under high-pressure conditions in subduction zones, is facilitated by high strain accumulated in the host rock.