Three Pleistocene tills can be distinguished in a coastal cliff section near Heiligenhafen, northern Germany, on the basis of structural and petrographic characteristics. The Lower and Middle Tills had previously been ascribed to the Saalian, and the Upper Till to the Late Weichselian. The former two tills are folded, and unconformably overlain by the Upper Till. In this paper, structural and sedimentological observations are used to investigate whether the Lower and Middle Tills belong to one glacial advance, or two separate (Saalian) advances, as was suggested in earlier studies based on fine gravel stratigraphy. From the contact with local rocks to the top of the MT there is a steady increase in allochtonous components (Scandinavian rocks) and decrease in parautochtonous (chalk and flint) and autochthonous components (local Eocene siltstone and meltwater sediments). This is paralleled by a trend towards increasing deformation (finite strain) from the bedrock to the top of the section. The most obvious aspect of this latter trend is the massive appearance of the MT which can be interpreted as the result of homogenization by repeated folding and attenuation of sediment lenses which have been incorporated into the till. This interpretation is supported by macroscopic and microscopic observations of structures in both tills. The structural analysis of the tills is based on the marked contrast in symmetry between sections parallel and perpendicular to the shear direction. Structures on all scales in the LT as well as in the MT indicate E-W (dextral) shearing, except in the western part of the section, where this is overprinted by W-E (sinistral) shearing. The sediment inclusions in the chalk-rich LT are mainly fragments of one or more strongly extended glaciofluvial delta bodies with a depositional direction towards WSW. Locally these delta sediments rest on Eocene siltstone and contain numerous angular fragments of this local bedrock. Boudins and lenses of sorted sediments are incorporated into the till and occur as 'islands of low strain' in a high strain homogeneous matrix. It is concluded that the LT and MT do not belong to two stratigraphically separate Saalian advances. The section is alternatively interpreted as one subglacial shear zone (deformation till) with upward increasing strain and allochtonous component content. It probably formed during the Younger Saalian (Warthe) westward advance from the Baltic region. Folding of the two diamicts occurred due to lateral compression near the Late Saalian ice margin. The section was finally overridden by the Late Weichselian Young Baltic advance, eroding the folded LT and MT and depositing the UT.