The lithosphere of the Northern Alpine foreland has undergone a polyphase evolution during which interacting stress-induced intraplate deformation and upper mantle thermal perturbations controlled folding of the thermally weakened lithosphere. In this paper we address relationships among deeper lithospheric processes, neotectonics and surface processes in the Northern Alpine foreland with special emphasis on tectonically induced topography. We focus on lithosphere memory and neotectonics, paying special attention to the thermo-mechanical structure of the Rhine Graben System and adjacent areas of the northern Alpine foreland lithosphere. We discuss implications for mechanisms of large-scale intraplate deformation and links with surface processes and topography evolution. © Springer-Verlag 2005.